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Maria Proitsaki

To Scandinavia, Unprepared


The embassy on a Tuesday. Polite smiles. An
ergonomically armchaired civil servant insults
my intelligence. It starts there—with her
tror hon verkligen att det blir så?

At the unemployment bureau, an enlightened
secretary admires my haircut, then sighs over
her files to dirty my hope. Tap-tap on hard leather
man ska se till personen is the backyard window

this is their country before it will ever be my home. . .


But always off the record. They expect me to say
I came walking; I've gnawed on bone. Which is a lie.
What I left they desire: rich summer smells and
that blinding sunshine on whitewashed walls.


Commentary. In Africa, Rhoda says, it doesn't have
to do with color. They register the way you hold
the bread roll, they note the way you signal negation.

Of course, the message is more honest
with a kitchen knife: chopping onions means you may cry
the blade pressed into your kidney, you'd better surrender.


Maria Proitsaki was born in Greece and received her BA from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Göteborg University, Sweden and is writing a dissertation which examines the works of Nikki Giovanni and Rita Dove.

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