The Refugees on the Train/ poem by Lucia Cherciu

The Refugees on the Train

are looking at empty fields.
The windows—mirrors of fear.

What would you give away today? 
Restlessness, disbelief.

Stop ordering foolish things for a year
while everything they own is in that bag. 

What can you give up today?
What can you go without?

The day is tilting towards unabated angst,
the blithe indifference of forgetting.

The refugees on the train watch their children 
with hair like sunflowers playing on the floor

and if you ever lost somebody
if you know the taste of despair,

think of the refugees on the train
dodging fate, begging for renewal.

They live in the liminal space 
between borders, between countries

in a town of hopelessness,
history tied to their ankles,

poverty tied to their wrists.
If you long for your father,

give in his name. If you haven’t seen
your mother in a while, give in her name.

Turn your grief into giving,
your guilt into generosity—

the day will come when you, too,
will arrive at the gate.


Lucia Cherciu is the author of five books of poetry, including Train Ride to Bucharest (Sheep Meadow Press, 2017), which was the winner of the Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize. Her work was nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the Net. Her web page is

One thought

  1. How deftly and poignantly Lucia has nailed the plight of the refugee and our lives examined next to theirs. Kudos!


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