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,
thyme—Too much

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.