Eating Alef


Hungry to learn, a grandchild singsongs the alphabet

while eating a sandwich without crusts and drinking

from a cup with a safety lid. In the photograph


of my father’s father, shtetl boys in a wooden wagon

hold honey-laced cookies shaped into letters, alef

to zayin. Some wear bits of knitted scarves and fingerless


mittens, others shrunken skullcaps stretched to their ears.

Leftover snow darkens the foreground but the threat

of a blizzard hovers like destiny against the cheer I imagine


as their morning lessons tumble into sugary crumbs caught

in mouths, pockets and the troughs of woolen trousers.