The Ones Who Don't Belong 5.
Poem By Liāna Langa
A roadside garden queen boards the train Aizkraukle - Riga.
She's wearing rubber boots, a grey moustache
above a chapped mouth.
Carrying a bagful of cucumbers, the roadside garden queen
is exhausted but in her bag are her own grown cucumbers,
a splendid variety.
"Could I have left the rake between the garden rows?" She worries.
Her eyes sink deeper into their hollows as she tries to remember.
The neighbour's dog often comes into her garden to do his business
and, in doing so, tramples her asters, now and then,
the strawberry plants.
The train wagon is not full. Its bedraggled state somehow suits
her rubber boots and sweaty toes shoved in them.
The roadside garden queen suddenly knows that the wagon
and her boots are one and the same. Her legs are
the train's passengers.
The most important thing is that the wagon is very clean.
She has never understood what the words ‘nerves'
and ‘pedicure' mean.
Slender birches race past the wagon windows.
The roadside garden queen notices a student sitting nearby.
In his lap a book. The boy, well-dressed, is catnapping.
The station Gaisma with its piles of coal races by.
The roadside garden queen's eyes crawl out of their hollows
like a squirrel's offspring, beasties dazzled by too much light.
But the old woman continues to gaze at the student
who reminds her of Stephan once-met.
Stephan, a young soldier, taught her three thousand
or so variations of kisses in the woods after a dance.
She recalls the infinity of Stephan's kisses.
Infinity, which tasted of boot black and barrack fare.
The summer days then were much like today: a green,
fragrant gruel, but nights transparent like a black nylon stocking.
The roadside garden queen's lips move.
Cramps in her toes protest against benevolent fate.
Translated by Margita Gailītis