You made me what I am today

binding me together, - toes, torso and head

with gold and silver cross-stitched thread

like a soldier’s insignia on an epaulet.

I am Uncle BB from Berlat who swam

in the Danube and Black Sea with Beluga

sturgeon and sardines all the way to Sulina.

I bought a Hudson Terraplane and never learned

to drive but loved the brass ignition key

I showed the guys at Picatinny loading bombs

and mortar shells.

The car smelled of fish, sat like a silent Sphinx

in front of my house with four flat tires

on a dead-end Dover street.

Home from work I’d sniff a bit of snuff,

have a shot of slivovitz, devour gefilte fish

like a hibernated grizzly bear, slurp down

a bowl of borsht, suck on ptchah and after

belching like a cow in heat I’d wipe my mouth

with the back of my hand.

I’d stomp around the kitchen floor to Bucharest

gypsy rhythms rehearsing the kazatzka for my

dream of marrying you.

You showed me how to walk and talk, jitterbug

and lindy till my bones fell into place; now take

my hand, - let’s dance.