JEANNINE M. PITAS
JEANNINE M. PITAS
It's a word that reminds you you're not the world. You've never liked it. You prefer the ecstatic frenzy of “and,” the heaping of spaghetti and chocolate pudding and mango onto plates without any fear of stomachache. But now you're three and a half decades into your journey, and you're in a dark wood, and you think it's Dante's but fear it's Frost's, with two paths diverging, and you can't follow both and be one traveler, and you ask why you have to pick, and you'd like to split yourself in two, maybe a sober daytime Apollonian you and a drunken nighttime Dionysian one, and you try to do this, but there's a limit to how far they'll walk away from each other. You seek a middle way, even though it might send you over the rocks, straight into the brambles. You don't care how much they scrape. A therapist says you need to learn to say “no,” that boundaries form identity, but you rally against those who enforce political borders. In 1912 thousands of Greeks were marched into Turkey, Turks into Greece. Today in Thessaloniki, you read a message written on a wall: “Borders kill people.” In 1947 India was partitioned. Two million died due to lines drawn on a map. You don't want to be a country with armed guards posted. No, you can't be the world, but even at this age you still want to be the sea, that seemingly infinite network of forkless paths, that blue container of brown and green land. And everyone knows there is only one sea.
Jeannine M. Pitas teaches English and Spanish at the University of Dubuque. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks, and her first full-length collection, Things Seen and Unseen, is forthcoming from Mosaic Press this year. Her poetry has recently been published in Canthius, Dappled Things, Presence, and Ithaca Lit; her translations have been published in Shenandoah Review, Waxwing, Western Humanities Review and Tupelo Quarterly.