Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Small Poem about Eating Polish Food

Gołąbki (1979)

Dawn Potter

which the aunts pronounced gowumkee you know cabbage rolls honey
and packed into a crockpot pasted all over with pictures
of happy brown daisies and then balanced them on the plush backseat

of a cream-colored Delta 88 bought used off the lot from a dealer
that Uncle Boy played accordion with in the beer garden up to Dunbar
and drove them down nice and hot to the farmhouse for Sunday dinner

even though our mother had already slapped together a bean casserole
and our father had picked a thousand ears of corn from the garden
and we were as stuffed as rats but the aunts ignored all signs of a previous meal

and said oh go ahead you’re tall you can hide it so we went ahead and swallowed
three or four tomato-sopped beef-stuffed toothpick-riddled cabbage socks
because we knew that good table manners means eating every single thing

old ladies cook for you no exceptions and then saying thank you afterward
and offering to scrub the crockpot and at least eating gołąbki was like eating
heaven that is if heaven was located in a coal-grimed empty five-and-dime

between what the aunts called that laundry mat and a Mennonite bookstore
which amazingly stocked all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s novels so as the dryers
growled and trembled and we seemed to be slumped in plastic bucket chairs

guarding the towels and undershirts really we were running and skipping
among the fresh prairie grasses in bare feet sun bonnets hanging down our backs
Jack the brindle bulldog frisking over the sod house as Pa’s fiddle sang the tale

of the wild plains as the dryer whipped the sopped blankets our tight-lipped mother
had unpinched from the line poked savagely through the ringer in the basement
hauled into town in the trunk of the pie-eyed Plymouth our father had once upon a time

bought brand-new making damn sure Uncle Boy had nothing to do with it
four doors a miracle of convenience and even an AM radio pulsing disco
under the foglit sky under the wet shriek of the mill whistle and O those gołąbki

we ate them and they were a heaven just as sloppy and leaking as ours

[first published in Salamander (2014) 19, no. 1]

1 comment:

Maureen said...

Enjoyed this, Dawn.