Lulu Lemon, as I had in vain
so many mornings before-
Battalions of Lays Bbq Chips
invade at night, night after night
staking their claim to property
left vacant during the last storm.
Cover was sought in flimsy
lines, contours of a fading identity
stored on crumpled napkins, stuffed
into plastic bags for safekeeping.
I headed for Poland in search of a lost
tear or stray strand of hair, left behind
by great grandparents, aunts and cousins
forced to travel light. What memories
slipped from their eyes as they closed
the front door for the last time?
I knew them only from my grandfather’s
irrepressible laughter and the sweet,
soothing smell of baked apple
He refused to identify the street of his youth
“They will think you are coming for our property”
He warned in an unfamiliar voice, hardened
from four decades of saturated fear-
“You don’t know them”
“They will kill you”
Neighbors occupied houses
abandoned by my ancestors,
the ones chosen,
by Arian exterminators.
I had no interest in contesting
the squatters acquired rights
Just in collecting a shoe, or a doll
or a letter, to confirm my own existence-
They were, therefore I am. Terrified.
Zaidie, it’s 1986. I’m Canadian”
I offered as if he had forgotten.
But he was already gone.