blackbirdonline journalSpring 2009  Vol. 8  No. 1
print version


Domestic Economics

Sudden silence, the refrigerator motor
cycling off. The psht of water filling

ice maker, half-moon cubes transparent
and white—fingernails whose color doesn’t

vary much body to body. Your dark fingers
swizzle ice in whiskey; you say slaves made

Aristotle possible. Chinese girls, twelve
to a factory dorm room, make my

sneakers possible. I never learned to sew,
the black wheel of my grandmother’s Singer

large as a steam locomotive, the needle a silver
blur as my sister’s fingers fed kelly green cloth

into its stabbing path. You dodge ghosts
on the road, grief squeezing your lungs: children

stacked in a ditch, flaming thatch, your aunt
cradling her head in her lap—I thought

it all so primitive. Thought Hutsul my mother’s
maiden name, not a tribe. Their village stripped even

of seed grain; like rats and grasshoppers, the dead
eaten without ritual. Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Russian:

language a sticky binding, the egg my mother
mixed with leftover mashed potatoes, molded

into patties, fried a filigree brown. It’s an accident
of birth, what we consume. This side-by-side model

with its glass shelves, vegetable and meat drawers—
I have more food than it can hold.  end

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