Tryst Poetry by John Eivaz


In a run-down apartment house
their home smelled old, cloistered in
old-country. They lived with sunflower seeds,
dried fruit, pickled vegetables. The wooden box
over the toilet, the chain scared me.
So exposed - what if it didn't work?
The most tenuous thing in their home,

more so than the doilies, and those
tarnished silver trays holding sweets,
or the old TV with its bad reception
of sports barely noticed, the image
always threatening to disappear.
Auntie and Uncle moved slowly,
and I loved their smiles.
It takes a lifetime to become.

When it was time to go, Sunday
nearly dark, Auntie gave my Lithuanian mother
Ball jars of bushala - dense yogurt soup
holding celery, spinach and chard
suspended. Eat it hot or cold - I liked
it warmed. I later learned

how to make bushala myself, was
excited when chard was cheap, added
yellow peppers and jalapenos sliced
(when they should have been left whole) -
my Assyrian father loved the spiciness,
into his eighties. The least I could do.

Ball jar, bali - Auntie always called me
bali - a diminutive endearment - Bali Ha'i,

("well, his sister's nephew was my father's uncle's ...
  he's Uncle, Johnny, just call him Uncle")

my Lithuanian mother took me to the movies
in the afternoons when I was a child,
The Mouse That Roared, The L-Shaped Room,
South Pacific, whatever was playing
on South Broadway, within walking distance.
The changing of colors,
Bloody Mary's Bali Ha'i - the haphazard
exposures on quiet afternoons -

Ball, bali, Bali Ha'i, bushala:
relatives, toilets,
and the tenuousness of
black and white TV ...

Been a while since I cooked the soup.
I write and write when I'm lucky,
let David Lynch wash over me now
like those tropical colors once did,
can't stand musicals except for one.
My mother died young,
my father old, for some reason
I can't help but look to the future
pained and expectant, perhaps
I will go to the market.

2002 John Eivaz

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