NANA WASN’T A LADY
I have lied about my Nana.
She was not elegant.
She was short and round and sweaty.
In her old-time woolen bathing suit,
twirling a red umbrella
as she danced down the beach,
To guests, she served slabs of apfelkuchen
with heavy mugs of strong coffee.
In spring, she made elderflower fritters.
When Mother was anemic,
Nana made her beef tea
and duck’s blood soup.
She snooped through the lives
of her younger sisters,
telephoned them every day,
scolded them, loved them.
When she wanted to roast a goose
she went to the market
to buy a live one. She carried it
home in a basket. On the streetcar.
Mother wanted to be invisible.
Mother wanted to be a lady.
“She’s a real lady” was Mother’s highest praise.
It took me years to shed
the linen tablecloth and napkins,
the bone china teacups Mother
thought I should collect even though
I prefer coffee in a heavy mug.