Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger translated by Carlie Hoffman

I Am The Rain

I am the rain. I travel barefoot 
from country to country.
Wind plays in my hair
with its slender, brown hand.

My thin spider web dress
more gray than suffering.
I am alone. Only occasionally
I play with a sick deer.

I hold strings in my hand
sheathed with all the tears ever 
loosened from a pale girl’s mouth.

I take them 
late at night from shaking girls
who live so close to their longing.

I am the rain. I travel barefoot
from country to country.
Wind plays in my hair
with its slender, brown hand.

Ja

You are so far.
As far as a star I want to hold.
And yet you are near—
only a little dusty
like the past.
Yes.

You are so tall.
As big as the shadow of that tree.
And yet you are here—
pale as a dream
in my lap.
Yes.

August

It is so cold—
ghostly,
               I sit here.

The rain, 
far and near,
               our united weeping. 

This blue longing,
familiar and close,
               lives in me
and I look to you
               spellbound.

Look at my face—
its striking 
               hollowness.
You see me full
of suffering and 
               cannot go back.


Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger was a German-speaking, Jewish poet from Bukovina. On December 16, 1942, she died of typhus in the Nazi SS labor camp Michailowka in Ukraine. She was eighteen years old. Selma is the author of Blütenlese, a collection of poems that, with the dedication and care of her contemporaries, miraculously survived the war.

Carlie Hoffman is the author of This Alaska (Four Way Books, 2021). Her awards include a 92Y/Discovery Poetry Prize and an Amy Award from Poets & Writers. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Boston Review, New England Review, TriQuarterly, Los Angeles Review, and elsewhere.  

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.