on being foreign

Leonard Durso

we are all foreign devils
to someone
as in France, say
they wouldn’t care
if you identify with Sartre
or if I love Paul Eluard
neither one of us would still be French
or in Russia, say
they would be oblivious to your love of Gogol
or my love of Turgenev
no matter how many books of theirs we’ve read
we still wouldn’t be Russian
or in China, say
you might know the Classics
and I can handle a pair of chopsticks
but there’s no way we’re passing for Chinese
you can travel
you can mingle
you can know your p’s and q’s
but it all goes
just so far
for you see
you are what you are
and you ain’t what you ain’t
and somewhere, some time, somehow
you can’t be what they are
just a foreigner
stranded on an alien landscape
making do as best you can

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