My grandmother swaths eggs with milk
and flour, makes white cells of dough measured
with a wooden spoon, dropped to boil
in a chalice of chicken fat and turnips
hard to find in the new world. Dumplings
thick with starch like newborn babies, water
steaming off their bodies.
After leaving her home,
my grandmother’s body betrayed her—
her son was born without breath.
When she came to Colombia, she washed
dishes, made nokedli from flour and water,
all they could afford. She learned
to fix teeth, forgot Hungarian, studied
tongue sores. In America she was other,
out of race and time; her father
hanged in Hungary, her mother fallen.
Her skin is maple. She helped me
sap those trees when I was five, told me how
she’d been a poet, lost her hand
in scrubbing pots, broken teeth; tongue-tied.
The nokedli is our bread—
we do not pray since the war.
(Published in Vespertine Press Volume 1)