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.