Boy from the Balkans
On Friday nights with an undertaker’s care,
he pushes the kneaded heap—memories
of a father gone—to the heat.
At fifteen he saw his mother turning
a photograph over in withering hands—
he knew he would leave.
On the playground, he wrote love letters
to Plato. Now books disgust him—he longs
for bread, something he can sink his teeth into.
He is furious sunset on river—a promise, he
thinks, to drown the dictators
circling like vultures
over his mother’s house.
Wild nights, he dances a Salome dance
diving from table to ground, coloratura blaze,
smoke alarm longing to kiss
the face of his creation, severed
from the pan. Cumin seeds, rosemary,
salt he says. The wound won’t heal.
Seed eyes closed, crusts strewn over furniture
like the flesh of children. The face
of his bread—the only way to get close enough
to memory. We slip away. He is at the oven,
storm eyes hailing dough.
Return to Index of Poetry
by Erika Kulnys