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Oct/Nov 2006 Poetry Special Feature

Swallow

by Dorothee Lang

Photo by Jim Gourley


Swallow

When you have the hiccups
someones thinking of you
somewhere in the world,
my grandma explained to me once

while I sat in her kitchen
on my embroidered cushion
counting the tapestry roses
that grew in rows on the wall.

Tell me about your school day,
she would always say,
and I would tell her about
the fossils of birds, the way they

can last forever when they fall
to the ground in the right place
and how they are made to plates
to hang on the auditorium wall.

When I arrived too late for lunch
she told me not to worry,
the youngest and the oldest
have a right to be heedless,

she would state, and leave
the door accidentally open.
But what if I want
the hiccups to stop,

I asked one day, there,
between strawberry jars.
Then you drown a sugar cube
in vinegar and swallow it,

she said, and I thought
it was a joke until I tried.
Until this sweet sour taste
blended into the memory of her.

 

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