to be latvian means to know your pitch from your fork,
to speak a tongue designed for woods and fields,
to have so much history that the present stops
and goes backward, the future
reiterating the pasts.
to be latvian is to be aware
of endless foreign wars right where one lives,
and remember no victories.
it means, in autumns, to walk along with the dead
and boldly speak one’s thoughts to the face
to be latvian means to know your song by heart and through bone;
to know that God once walked this earth
and named the hills, the trees and the mushrooms;
it means to eat pork:
because the cows give you milk and cheese, and cream,
and the sheep keep your feet warm in those winters.
to be latvian is to stay put,
and complain, and do nothing.
it means to love silently, by the work of your hands,
and betray, and cheat, and kill in the name of the land.
to be latvian means
to stand tall, like the oak, to bow low, like the willow;
to be soft like the linden, and sturdy like birch.
to be latvian is
to be a forest of one, singing with bees.