The four-story brownstone
swirled with her five children
and the four stepchildren, grown men,
who had escaped conscription over there.
They lived here for a few years before
setting up on their own.

My generation gathered for the holidays,
slept on featherbeds on the living room floor
where a huge green silk embroidered frog
crouched beneath the piano..

The stay-at-home aunts bustled in and out of the kitchen.
She presided over all, stout and proud,
in her middle-European best dress,
passing down tradition,

holding us all firmly in place
until her heart gave out and the family fell apart.

Lari Smith