Friday, September 1, 2017


My grandfather Max grew up on a farm
With ten brothers and sisters and
A very great number of ducks. This
Was in the uncertain lands, then
Part of Austria's Poland but now
Ukrainian. A tossed coin sent him
To America where, he became a tailor
And a cutter, turning huge bolts of cloth
Into coats. His children played
With giant spools. Some weeks
The cutters never went home but slept
On the giant tables or under them.
For some years he owned a factory
On West 39th Street in Manhattan.
Growing up in Poland
He’d helped his father make wine
In Brooklyn he had a garden
And grew plums, peaches, and apricots
But his grapes refused to make wine
Turning always into vinegar.
He called each of his children
By the first word they tried to say. Sadie
Was Gninganoy; Doris was Napougie;
My father was Sock. That leaves six
Whose true names I don't know.
In summer, he and his landtsmen
Might eat cantelopes and then
Drink schnapps from the hollowed halfs.
His children called him Poppa.
His wife Esther called him Mortrazik
I don't know what he called her.

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