Monday, November 28, 2011

June Cleaver Cleaves Herself

JuneMargaretDonnaHarriet Cleaver frets over starched white collars.
She wipes the dish clean, clean, clean, clean, clean.
So clean the pattern is impressed upon her palm.
Blood and Palmolive. Intermixed. Interspersed. Intermingled.
Her husband is a busy man wiling away hours in his study, den, office.
Her daughters, Princess and Kitten, and sons, Wally, Bud and...
The Beaver. What was his name again? She slaps her forehead. Oh, yes, Theodore.
A sweet gift. A swell kid. An afterthought

JuneHarrietMargaretDonna stirs the batter for cookies.
She thinks about a woman whose story
got buried in the back of the newspaper.
A mad, sad, isolated housewife
cleans the house from top to bottom, top to bottom, top to bottom, top to bottom.
She can see her funhouse reflection in every piece of silver.
She retires to the recesses of the attic and...

JuneDonnaHarrietMargaret smiles smugly.
Her life, she reasons, needs a theme song. Something hummable.
Ward, her husband, or is it Jim, her mind wanders, knows best.
With pipe in hand, he sets her straight.
She doesn't remember much about the moment.
She is dutiful. He is perfunctory.
She is pleasant and docile and always makes his favorite meal.
Even when company shows up unannounced.
"I am sorry, honey. I forgot to tell you."
She smiles tightly. "The rib roast is in the oven."

JuneDonnaMargaretHarriet goes to the kitchen where she vigorously mashes potatoes.
She will make WardJimOzzieAlex look good.
She will smile even if her mouth cracks.
She picks up the cleaver. She picks up the carving knife.
She stabs and jabs blindly at
The wooden cutting board.
She vanishes all murderous thoughts from her pretty little head
and cheerfully, resolutely serves dinner.
She looks outside her dark kitchen window.
She wonders about what life is like on the outside.
What would it be like to have one, a life that is.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oshmina, Ellis Island Remembers You

Oshmina, Ellis Island remembers you.
Remembers my grandpa.
Remembers his brothers.
Remembers my mother's cousin
who went from town to town
asking for a Jew so he could sell his wares.

Oshmina, Ellis Island remembers you
Remembers their names.
Remembers their countries of origin.
Remembers a mass grave at the edge of town
Remembers my great aunt.
Who remains there.

Oshmina, Ellis Island remembers you.
Remembers a teenaged girl who hid from hungry soldiers.
Remembers her guilt of leaving behind her starving father.
Remembers her mother who died much too young,
After bearing eight children. Perhaps more.
Who worked herself to death in the factory.

Oshmina, Ellis Island remembers you.
Those who remained, their names buried but not forgotten.
Those who left traded in old names for new names.
Names and ages a jumble on passenger lists.
A confusion of huddled masses.
Breathing free with new identities.
Breathing free with new lives.
Breathing free with new homes.
Never entirely forgetting old countries.
Never forgetting mother tongues.

Oshmina. Ellis Island remembers you.
Fragments of lullabies sung by their mothers.
Sung to their daughters. Sung to their granddaughters.
"The road is long," Yes, the road is long.
The journey has become a patchwork quilt.
Stories half told. Half forgotten.
Details altered. Sifted through fine sands of time
unearthing bright gems of wistful remembrance.