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Beauty Queens

by Liana Alaverdova

Say, where do they live, those U.S. beauty queens,
The ones that we see in the slick magazines,
Where semi-clad ladies entice and assail men
And seem to be offering cures for all ailments?
With bosoms so large and long legs so pretty,
I’d bet that they live in a fancier city.
Some place where the living and climate is good
Like Florida, Paris, or else Hollywood.
The ladies we see here in Brooklyn and Queens
Are prone to be fat ones in tight scruffy jeans
With oddly neat babies in slings on their hips
And cigarettes dangling from pierced purple lips.
We immigrants watch and we judge them severely
Without understanding a damned thing here clearly!
Because we have come from an alien star
(Though dressed like the natives, we remain who we are).
Our grasp of the world here’s so shaky and new,
No wonder we make the mistakes that we do.
Yet, now we are all in the same boat, or train,
When someone starts singing a Russian refrain,
He sobs out “Katyusha,” in anticipation
Of moving some riders to make a donation.
But Katya can’t move them. What is she to them?
These fellows have girlfriends called Lupe or Kim.
So all that he gets for his misguided try
Is a smile from two Asians as they hurry by.
It’s hard that so much that our past life has taught us
Cannot be applied to this life fate has brought us.
Here nothing makes sense to us, nothing’s the same.
Yet none of us wants to go back whence we came,
Where we lived in the dark like blind kits in a litter,
To Russia the tortured, pathetic, and bitter,
Which none of our children (though we do) will mourn,
Where we had the joy and bad luck to be born.

Beauty Queens, in Russian

Copyright © 2010 by Liana Alaverdova

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