A Poem by Tatiana Dolgushina

Tatiana Dolgushina

Tatiana Dolgushina

Tatiana Dolgushina is a Soviet immigrant, born in Soviet Russia and raised in Ukraine, Argentina, Chile, and the United States. This multilingual and multicultural identity is central to her work. Her chapbook, carried/in our language was a finalist for the Vinyl 45 Chapbook Prize and is forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2025. A graduate of the Oregon State MFA, her writing is forthcoming or has been published in Beloit Poetry Journal, Rattle, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hunger Mountain, New Farmer’s Almanac, The Other Side of Hope, Collateral, and elsewhere.

a foreign body: 11 parts

1. are these holidays weird for you, a student asks me. I reply without wanting to reply.

2. in this moment the medical treatment is filling my jaw and moving my teeth, compromised by a childhood post-Chernobyl.but nobody will talk about that with me.

3. my teeth used to be black from the water.only in a dictatorship this would have been allowed.but never in history has the wellbeing of children come first for governments.

4. today almost a hundred thousand children have starved to death in the war in the middle east.some days I can’t believe that I’m alive.trying as my body has tried over those first decades.

5. now it feels easy to buy food while grocery shopping.while spins the world.spins the world on the backs of starved children.western ideals are hard to match in places such as when the impact of war or somebody’s ideas outweighs one’s right to live.

6. today is Black Friday and that is a holiday.are these holidays weird for you.i reply or maybe I hold my tongue, because she didn’t ask to know the irony of western ideals.how with this treatment I will have enough bone in my jaw to eat hard foods.

7. it may not be her fault after all that there are waters that rot the brains of children and that the economies have been approved by men higher up.it may not be her fault.

8. even if I explained as much as I can.sometimes it sounds too much like my past being woven into songs of the present for my own satisfaction.and I don’t want to be satisfied by any of it.

9. but some days I can’t believe I have made it alive across all those invisible borders that are heavily enforced.and on the way there my teeth have rotted out of my mouth.and on other instances there are too many instances.some days I expect to see it all over again.here on my body.

10. some days are like that, where my body keeps starving itself after I give it all the food of western ideals.the childhood brain has learned only one way to live, and over a time I have learned to use metal pieces to hold it.over a time which nobody will talk to me about, and I’m afraid to explain it.

11. that there is even such a thing as freedom.it makes little sense to a child’s brain.where the water has been wrongly deemed safe for consumption, and other children have learned the hard way.how did I make it here.how can I possibly ever be whole.in a body that keeps asking me to hold it.