A Poem by Robert Beveridge
Refreshments, always, in the basement, sweet
on the tongue, yet ashes in the belly. Too
preoccupied, the crowd, to keep track
of their children, for once allowed to run
wild, play games otherwise forbidden—cowboys
and coroners, steal the turnip, charades.
You took time off from the elephant factory for this.
There's always one distant relative, in your case
a third cousin, who shows up already redolent
of Hanobska's cheapest marionette, pulls on a flask
when he thinks no one's looking. You try to remember
if he ever did, in fact, meet the deceased. You
come up empty.
The prayers are in another language
without warning. You wonder if something has gone
wrong with your brain's translation module; how
much of your family even knows Ukrainian? You
pick up another lemon curd, nails still dirty
from yesterday's shift, place it on your tongue,
feel it combust.