Well, what do you want me to say?
Przyleciałem z rodzicami do Polski odwiedzić mojego dziadka.
I flew to Poland with my parents to visit my grandpa.
Wspaniale, he chuckles. Super, and blinks at his son.
Again… Is that what you want me to say?
Or if you want me to say something again but different, say that.
He gathers ideas from around the room—the table
my aunt set, her hands in her lap now.
That evening, after we leave, they will magiclessly
pull a bed out of the couch.
(It’s not as short of a request as it sounds, the words long
associated with a family-steep tradition.) We’re having sweets,
drinking tea, instant coffee—really,
it’s all a treat. A stronger chuckle this time,
though chokier. The firanki undulate,
letting pass the uprising draft coming in off the courtyard,
over the balcony and through the open sliding-glass door.
And then he says to say, Ja uczę
pisanie i literatury w Ameryce.
I teach writing and literature in America.
Loud and outward this time, and shaking
his head like loosening the knot of a krawat at
the party. Pieprzona Komuna.
Fucking Communism? I appeal to my mother,
her keeled over, wheezy laughter
among the others’ chortles
of no relief to me—the responsibility to join
their voices all mine.