“Motherland” and “Past Perfection”


Bucia rode a boat from                     Polska
before she was                                    babushka
and birthed American dolls:
mother and grandmother.
I call them                                           “Nonnie” and “Mommy”
like                                                        vanilla soft-serve and hamburgers:
proof of detachment from                ojczyzna.1

We cook pierogi                                 —Mrs. T’s—
and kielbasa                                        —Johnsonville—
from aisle 10 in                                   Stop&Shop
and we chopped off the                     “–ski
long ago.

There’s not a Polish woman I can’t thank.

I descend from the outermost babushka,
who, when we peel back nesting dolls
like a cebula, reveals generations
that grow distant from ojczyzna:
I find myself, the smallest
American doll, tucked
under layers of matka,2
made of different
wood, made in


1. motherland
2. mother


Past Perfection

She walks with my ghost.
She uses the past perfect, as if

I                                had died.
I                                had worn

thick glasses. Strong prescriptions.

She likes adventure.
I like The Daily. Routine.
The zeitgeist. She doesn’t
appreciate my questions:

Is journalism objective?
Isn’t all perception flawed?

A salad-crunch response. Then,

Lester is pitching today.

We                           had planned                     to name

the dog Wrigley
and it would be
a beagle.

It                               had been                     agreed upon.

That’s what the loveseat was for.

She turns the corner: New Street.
I know poetry when I see it.

Art is more real than life.

She hated that one too.
I hated her hate.
She hears his breath.

Warmth                                had left                     the body.

Image: Photo by cottonbro, via Pexels