PoetryIssue 11 | January 2011

Two Poems by Ani Gjika


This time of year snow fills the long, white porcelain pots
on a balcony in Albania where grandma Garufala grew red chilies
for her husband. She learned Albanian from the radio, danced
in cobblestone streets as her cousins played guitar. The night
they crossed the border, she danced one last time for them
as they sang Garufala me mallia varya*. They never met again.
Last year I married you. You left Orissa to live with me.
This time of year, snow falls in my grandparents’ little town.
You, like my grandfather, love chilies. I slice them into thin rings
and throw them in a round, white porcelain cup filled with Kikkoman.
We have basil chicken for supper and you let me take your last bite,
like a promise for me to outlive you. I spy black caterpillars
crawling all over our windows. In a few days, they will turn
to dozens of yellow-lime butterflies and fly off
to who knows where. They will not come back.

* from Greek, “Garufala with the heavy hair.”

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About the author

Born and raised in Albania and married to an Indian poet, Ani Gjika transfered to the U.S. at 18 and is currently a teaching fellow at Boston University, pursuing an MFA in poetry. She is the recipient of a 2010 Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship and a 2010 Robert Fitzgerald Translation Prize for her translations from the Albanian of poems by Luljeta Lleshanaku. Gjika’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in MIPOesias, Salamander, Seneca Review, Stirring: A Literary Collection and elsewhere.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok