Frog Pillow

From the Çernowitz that my grandparents knew
it’s a long long way to the Williamsburg Bridge.

His popping faceted green glass eyes,
the netting that covered his broad silk back,

with spatulate brocaded feet
splayed wide before and aft,

big enough for a child to put her head on,
spread out beneath the piano, and dream.

He was stuffed with down, collected by Bubbe
for pillows and quilts and mattresses.

What had he seen in his Romanian home?
A lot of culture, and a lot of tsuris, too.

Enough to send them fleeing across Europe
and over the sea to Brooklyn’s melting pot.

This fragment of that earlier life
had come to rest in comfort

on a thick Oriental in the best parlor
where grandfather could count his blessings

after he made his way home through the hostile streets,
stones thrown at his high hat

by the ragged resentful immigrant kids
who fought to keep the turf their own,

ignorant of the “Çernowitzes” their parents knew,
the same long journeys to these streets.

Lari Smith