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The Lucky Ones

A one-room schoolhouse at one lone crossroads
with two lines of houses and acres of corn rows.
An old rusty combine that belonged to the collective.
A statue of Stalin marks the house where my mama lived
for just six weeks until they got an order:
you’re no longer wanted, you should head for the border
and go find your own kind or find out what the tundra’s like.

Now I know that they used to live here
Now I know how they were sent away,
but that was a lifetime before we came here today

An exit from Moscow to a camp in Germany,
a boat to New Brunswick and a train across the Rockies;
they settled in the valley, near the reservations

farmland for the foreigners and forest for first nations.
All they ever wanted was soil to plant their crops in,
a schoolhouse for their children and a church to worship Him,
and then god willing they would be left alone.

Now I know that they used to live here
Now I know how they were sent away,
but that’s not something we like to talk about today.

An old babushka with a glint in her eye,
a rag on her head and a mutt by her side.
She said she was young then but she remembers hearing
‘bout some Germans who had lived here but she never knew what happened to them.
Her old man came running – don’t you talk to them.
Now they’re rich Western tourists what if they want their land back again?

Then we’ll have nothing, or less than the nothing we have now.

She said yes, they used to live here,
She said yes, they were sent away
but that was a long time before we came here to stay
– and we were made to stay.
Oh, the lucky ones – they got away...

Now I know, I'm so lucky just to be here today.