In all these rotten shops, in all this broken furniture and wrinkled ties and baseball trophies and coffee pots I have never seen a post-war Philco with the automatic eye nor heard Ravel's "Bolero" the way I did in 1945 in that tiny living room on Beechwood Boulevard, nor danced as I did then, my knives all flashing, my hair all streaming, my mother red with laughter, my father cupping his left hand under his armpit, doing the dance of old Ukraine, the sound of his skin half drum, half fart, the world at last a meadow, the three of us whirling and singing, the three of us screaming and falling, as if we were dying, as if we could never stop—in 1945— in Pittsburgh, beautiful filthy Pittsburgh, home of the evil Mellons, 5,000 miles away from the other dancing—in Poland and Germany— oh God of mercy, oh wild God.
No one there to remember with me
the election returns of 1931
Hoover losing state after state
Roosevelt getting his speech ready
the first time ever on radio
my father starting to sing in Russian
moving furniture to dance the kazatzka,
nor is there anyone to help me with the words
of a song I sang in Miss Steiner’s chorus
nor anyone standing there with me in the blue
rhododendrons or sitting under the blossoms
of my dying redbud, not even brewing
a Kroger tea bag and reading the leaves.