Always my grandparents arrived
disguised as harmless elders.
They'd say grace, bless the three
of us and our small residence
above my father's office.
Residence. I don't choose the word
for the poem's sake, but because
it was their word. I want you to hear
what I heard
through all those years
before my mother's death,
all those Sunday briskets
and pot roasts, all those potatoes
she and I peeled on Saturdays
and the pies whose crusts
we dispatched till it became ritual
the way, I thought, the making of the host
must be ritual for those who toil
in some secret bakery blessed
by a bishop. I haven't forgotten
I wrote disguised. And I know
you might wonder if I should have
changed that word
before I called this poem finished.
they had harmed someone.
Not me who believed
in the prayers they uttered,
but my mother
who inhabits me each time
I roll out the dough as she did,
shape it, fit it to the pan,
fill it with mincemeat or apples,
pinch the edges together
with my thumb and forefinger,
and with the tines of my fork
prick it and prick it and prick it.
--Andrea Hollander Budy