poetry To Combat Antisemitism, Write a Villanelle
To Combat Antisemitism, Write a Villanelle
By Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach
We fled the fallen Soviet Union, where nationality
was Jewish on our passports and on skin, fled
to an America we thought was free.
My family was given status: refugee,
so I grew up privileged, a Jew and not a zhid,
grew up with faith and culture, not nationality
aside from USA, a line my mother loved to see
inked on her US passport: welcome home, sang
at the customs’ gates of an America named free
of being defined by skin or blood or body—
How wrong to feel so falsely safe. The Jews shot
inside the Kosher deli, too, thought death by nationality
was past, thought religion was community,
in an America they thought came free
to all our children, sweet land of liberty,
they teach my son in school: sing out
difference, speak your mother’s native
tongue, this is America, make her free.
Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach (www.juliakolchinskydasbach.com) emigrated from Ukraine as a Jewish refugee when she was six years old. She is the author of three poetry collections: The Many Names for Mother, winner the Wick Poetry Prize (Kent State University Press, 2019); Don’t Touch the Bones (Lost Horse Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 Idaho Poetry Prize, and 40 WEEKS (YesYes Books, 2021). Her poems appear in POETRY, American Poetry Review, and The Nation, among others. Julia is the editor of Construction Magazine. She holds an MFA from the University of Oregon and is completing her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Philly with her two kids, two cats, one dog, and one husband.