«Portbou» and «Shabbat (Shabbos)» by Maia Evrona


The train station in Portbou. Courtesy of Maia Evrona.


To leisurely travel here to Portbou
where others have fled through.
To exist as a tourist in a world
full of others running for refuge.

And to stroll down the narrow
streets of nearby towns, drinking
chocolate, and notice the hollows
where mezuzahs were torn away from stone.

A few decades ago, in another century,
the refugee would have been me,
in another few years perhaps it will be.

Here I am admiring the sea. To be
a tourist can be a beautiful thing.
Strange in a world of tourists and refugees.

Shabbat (Shabbos)

The idea is lovely: On the seventh day
God rested, and so must we.

A necessary commandment in our busy world
but I have always followed my own schedule.

I prefer that the world continue:
for others to rest when I work,

to busy themselves when I wander.
For the creation was good,

may the streets be full
when one needs them so.

Portbou steps and sea. Courtesy of Maia Evrona.

Maia Evrona is an American poet and translator of Yiddish and Spanish poetry. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Poetry Magazine and numerous other online and print venues. She has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Yiddish Book Center and elsewhere. Maia recently spent several months as a poet-in-residence at Casa Adret with the support of a Fulbright award.

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