Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Poems by Kirstin Ruth Bratt

Nov 6, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

            Inspired by the 270th ghazal of Hafiz

You ask about the pain of love
Do I want it
You ask if I like my journey
The rising sea levels and the mortgage
I do and
I do not

You invite me to your ocean
We wash our mouths and our ears
I hear your questions, but I wonder
What you’re saying
If you ask too many questions
They are not questions at all
You are choosing the heart
You want



Sky of Glass

           “And the stars in the sky don't mean nothing to you
           They're a mirror…”
           Danny Whitten, “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”

The sky is a curved sheet of glass
Reflecting the stars, over and over
Like looking in a mirror that is looking in a mirror
And I don’t want to talk about it anymore
How long I have been looking at the stars
It hurts too much to talk about
That picture of you at four years old
Striped shirt and overalls
Lying on your belly with a book and a pile of crayons
Smiling up at my mother’s camera
My longing for you to be like that again
One more afternoon like that, and maybe another
A mirror in a mirror
The stars in a mirror
The sky a curved pane of glass
You growing too fast for me to hold you
I can see your eyes
Reflecting in the sky
Over and over again
Like looking in a mirror
That is looking at a mirror
Your eyes
Those stars
Your eyes
Those stars


What the River Needs
          “…The sign may be water or fire
          or it may be the black earth…” 
          — Lucille Clifton, “Shadows”

Wake up, woman
It doesn’t matter what
The river means
Or what it eats
Or how long it takes
Wake up, woman
A different kind of woman is calling you
A secure woman in the comfort of her home
She should stay there, weaving
But she won’t
The Nile is born in a mountain lake
A lake full of rivers
It flows north to Memphis
To the sea
Wake up, woman, and wake up, girl
Weave your actions into a mountain
Great devastation
Small moving ships
Make yourself a new world
The Mississippi River
Is like a tree
You can meditate on the shore
Wake up, girl
You’re dreaming again
Forget the earth, the blood-soaked soil
And help your family


Kirstin Ruth Bratt is a professor, mother, writer who is fascinated with live theater and music. She can often be seen walking near the Mississippi River in Minneapolis or holding yoga poses in a hot studio.


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