mariann ritzer | relative trade

30 09 2007

babushka.jpg

Poetry Dispatch No. 3 | August,29 2005

Relative Trade by Mariann Ritzer

This is trade day, giveaway day
and I’ll take Jennifer Kruger’s grandmother
who smells like fresh-baked oatmeal bread
and trade my gnarly, wrinkled, liver-spotted,
cabbage-smelling grandma with the babushkas
she ties tightly under her chin and mine.

I’ll grab Henry Kowalski’s father with his
sweat shirts and swear words and his slow
pitches in the backyard and give Henry
my stoic, gray-eyed, Bible-quoting father.

I’ll trade Martha Bittle’s red-lipped, light blonde
mother with painted nails, quick laughter and arms
put there for hugging and give Martha my frail,
driven-by-migraine-headaches mother who dusts
the window sills thrice weekly and eats bran muffins
with raisins on Mondays and Fridays.

I’ll take Millie Roiden’s Aunt Sassy,
who reads romance novels and whispers
the love scenes to us in a husky, steamy voice
and wears three inch heals and cracks Juicy Fruit gum
between her beautiful, straight, white teeth.
Yes, I’ll take her and give Millie
my Aunt Betsy and her five black cats
with green, glow-in-the-dark eyes who walk
and stalk her efficiency apartment
like burglars in the night.
If they won’t agree to an outright trade
I’ll play marbles and throw my winnings
in for their people.

I’ll trade even Steven and they’ll thank me grandly
for giving them my people and the marbles
and this will be one time they won’t call
me an Indian giver. This time I’ll play
for keeps and surprise the hell out of them
and when I am rich and famous because of all
the genes I acquired through that thing called
osmosis I’ll thank them publicly for playing
the game according to Hoyle and give them
each a crisp, snappy, new dollar bill
and tell them not to spend it all
in one place, like my grandpa says.

I’ll keep track of my people, once in a while,
like every month or so, just to see
how things are going, but I won’t want them back
nor will I miss them or the bran muffins
with the raisins, the tightly tied babushka,
the black, green-eyed apartment
or the preaching Bible versus

Praise Be The Lord, Amen.

crp001_t1.jpgfrom, AN EVENING ON MILDRED STREET | Cross+Roads Press | Chapbook 1 (1995)

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