The first time I left home
my grandma sent photos
not of relations but relish trays
platters of spiral sliced ham
bowlfuls of scalloped potatoes.
Centered in almost every shot
her own heavenly hash.
There was a picture of Easter bread:
knots of white with colored egg buttons.
Of course, I could see her kitchen, too,
could imagine the aunts
smoking on the porch swing,
the cousins searching for eggs
in the damp grass and the crook of
the half-dead tree that was
just a little too high for egg hunters.
Later, my uncle would get out his guitar
and they would all sing with voices
smokey as their cigarettes.
They would sing as loudly
as full bellies would allow
and Blatz beer would inspire.
By then they would be ready
for a second round; pink fingernails
would be picking at ham pieces, while the
cousins took the egg money to the store.
Finally, the guitar in its case
the cleanup would begin in earnest.
My mother's cookies would become
the center of attention, flaky
nut roll-ups and pecan tassies
gulped in single bites, others
taken on paper plates to be savored later.
It was the cookies I missed in the pictures.
Maybe gram left them out on purpose,
knowing they would make me homesick
in a hungry way that neither relatives
nor ham could, my own
Easter meal still a recent memory,
and leftovers enough.
Herr likes to sprechen Deutsche
in a thick southern drawl
and actually believes
in the second person plural,
makes us understand:
y'all's all right.
Herr Professor explains,
Ich bin ein Berliner
while grammatically correct
was a lie either way, Kennedy
neither German nor a pastry.
Herr was there, at the Wall,
as close as the snorer in the rear,
stunned, by flung chalk.
Herr rescued, he says, an old map
of the homeland circa 1948.
Tells us: next time Germany
should just buy the extra real estate
Sometimes, if Schubert's
playing on the radio, he's late
and says we should be, too,
listen a little more to the Masters, to
the magpies, to the magnolia's
pink crescendo as they bloom.