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Summer, 2003

Summer,  2003

Russell Salamon

Two Poems

---from Breakfast in the Twelfth Century

Berkasovo, Yugoslavia, is a village stuck in time. Except for a few steam-driven machines which seldom worked, it might as well have been the Twelfth Century.

I grew up there to the age of twelve.

Breakfast was a cup of milk still warm from the cow along with a slice of bread, a piece of bacon, maybe an egg. Sometimes potato pancakes. Sometimes crepes with plum jam. Sometimes sour milk with bread. On winter mornings there was fried cornmeal mush or cream of wheat.

Maybe you have forgotten by now what the Twelfth Century was like. Here are moments of that existence. 

Green Onions

By spring there is not much
left to eat. Bread and a smear
of lard. First out are green

After school a slice of bread
and lard and green onions,
watching the walnut tree

I see cracked moonlight
in its pale skin. Brown
stains on fingers as I break
unripe walnuts, pulling
out white meat.


Fish! Fresh fish! His two-wheeled
wagon an oddity, he comes from
a strange land that has fish. His
horse is dusty and bony.

Gar. Pike. Carp. Perch.
Wrapped in wet grain sacks.
"Madam, I just caught them
this morning. Buy them now

before the heat takes them."
His land is cool with dense
forests and swamps and magic
fish worlds. His accent is old.

By evening fish in the batter
are lit brown, cooked to taste
of riverworlds.