Anybody’s Guess

A jar of sea salt rests on the table
     Of the woman whose home is at the edge
     of the pavement in middle Vermont.
Close by, a laptop reveals an image of
     A beach scene with Saul and Gertrude,
     Children of Moishe and Rivka.
Gertrude is touching the bridge of her nose
     The way she recalled her grandmother did
     During happier times.
Riddled with survivor’s guilt
     No children
     No marriage
Familial echoes of Dachau.
The screen flickers and the Vermont woman,
     Who is one-sixteenth Jewish, misses
     Seeing her 10th cousin on the monitor
          as she straightens the table.
Perhaps the salt is from the dead sea
Saul and Gertrude are not kosher.
They do not care.
Dreaming of Moishe and Rivka, they light
     Memorial candles.
How they ended up on a beach is anybody’s guess.
Could the salt be from Zhirmatov
     Where Moishe ran a sugar beet farm
     Until an SS squad rounded them up and away?
The woman makes coffee from Sumatra
     Filtered through paper from China.
     She has traveled widely: statues
          From Africa, rugs from Iran, a bronze piece
          From Morocco decorate her home; all part
 Of her as are genetic snippets from the United Kingdom,
     Belgium and an extinct shtetl once in the Ukraine.
Saul and Gertrude:
     Unlucky siblings of survivors
     Cannot enjoy sun on waves.
Off by the horizon a figure retreats.
They call out to it.
Lot’s wife turns.
All that salt is blown in their faces.
The woman who lives in a house
     Where the pavement ends, seasons
     Scrambled eggs with black pepper
          from Vietnam and absent-mindedly
         touches the bridge of her nose.