Remembering Odessa.

Author:Harris, Judith

Father knew six languages

and sold sewing machines in Odessa.

Before I was a schoolgirl,

I could read in three.

I remember the yellow hair

of my mother, that matched

the wands of wheat in picture books.

They buried her

among a few twisted shrags in the onions

where they had pulled up roots

and dug and dug;

poor mother was too big

for the box, so they had to bend

her knees to fit her in.

The fields were ice, and among the mills,

Polish women were picking mushrooms

off the truck in aproned coats

and blue babushkas.

Men covered my mother

in snow--letting it crack against

the pine lid in all sorts

of lovely, unpredictable ways,

like a foreign alphabet.

I am so old now

my mother seems like my own child.

I can lift her easily

as the Yiddish sky

boosting the birds and almond trees.

Thinking back, I'm glad

they dressed her in warm boots

borrowed from a sister.

White flakes will be falling

where she is traveling at last,

or else, it could be bare.

JUDITH HARRIS is an Assistant Professor of...

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