We sit on benches warmed by
redolent afternoons, our talk
storied by memories of neighbors
slipping through doorways, smells
of garlic, lox, cabbage slipping out.
Italians dropped vowels
like maple seeds, winged o’s and i’s
spiraling away. Jews cut off
whole syllables, learned to bite
their names in half and spit out the pits.
Poles, on the other hand, sifted
the hard soil of consonants and
When we visit the graveyards,
we brush dirt from the headstones,
say the names the old way, listen
for spirits who gather and nod.