SHOVELING SNOW, 1955

My Austrian grandmother

stands by a window

listening to my shovel scrape

the snow as it falls

 

By tomorrow

the jagged path

will disappear again

into smoothness,

but she worries

that school children,

small and wrapped in wool

may lose their way

if sidewalk slides

into snowdrift

 

Tonight when this work

is done

I will sit in stocking feet

at a table steaming with

liver dumplings and broth,

sip homebrew

until I feel numb and good

 

Grandfather will smoke luckies

by an old Philco,

half hearing Vaughn Monroe

sing, “Shine on

Shine on, harvest moon

Up in the sky…”

 

She will turn on the oven

to give me warmth,

lean towards me on an elbow

and tell again

how poor they were

in the old country