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In the summer of 69 when
we didn't have indoor plumbing,
old women like my grandmother
who was still alive but facing
the direction of the grave
wore black.

She could not think of anything to say to me
and I could not think what to tell her
of the ten years since we'd left.

That summer,
we gathered around the one television
to watch Americans walking on the moon:
One small step.

Since then my cousins in Slovenia
have foresworn black kerchiefs,
dyed their hair, put on tight pants,
passed machines in the fields in cars
they drive themselves.

I try to walk now on grass,
barefoot if possible.
I like to catch a breeze, the call of birds,
around a lake where ducks squawk
and call in the lingua franca,
in the language of the fowl
that used to live at my grandmother's doorstep,
the complaining hens, self-satisfied ducks,
the guard-dog geese indignant
should we step on their territory of dirt.
They'd attack, necks outstretched,
nipping with a violent bray,
warning trespassers: Keep away!