The boat in Danzig would leave on time.
My grandmother and her two cousins traveled overland,
away from the Polish-Russian war.
Away from running into the woods
with only crackers for food.
Far from seeing men killed in the streets.
A long journey from avoiding windows because
she might get shot.
In school, she was taught in Polish, Russian, or German,
depending on who held the land at the time.
Years before, her parents manufactured horse blankets for the Russian army.
In 1923, my grandmother met her father’s former employee
on a Brooklyn street (a small connection).
Letters sailed across the ocean; news traveled from the family until 1939.
For the holidays, my grandmother baked a noodle pudding, glorious in every way—
two types of raisins, eggs, farmer cheese,
made in a bundt pan, baked perfectly, sliced thick,
couldn’t eat it fast enough, always wanting more.
It helped to ease the silence.
This poem was originally published in
The Paterson Literary Review #43 2015-2016