— David Eisbach
Over sixty years in America,
Ayti spoke only her native Finnish,
Because her children made fun of her accent.
The dresses exposed only the thick medical
Stockings covering formless ankles.
A brightly colored “babushka” tied under the chin,
Covered the grey hair rolled tightly into a bun.
Pale blue eyes, separated by a rounded
Blunt nose, accented an oval face.
The cheeks were like ripened plums, red
With stretched skin, thin and translucent.
The hands were pink, worn smooth by life’s labors.
She displayed two endearing emotions.
A spirited laugh with her head thrown back,
Defying the daily struggles of farm life.
When we were alone and hobbled by a dearth
Of conversation and shackled by silence,
She became pensive; the eyes looked up
And locked tightly onto nothing.
Suddenly, she would release a string of
Hoy, hoy, hoy, hoy, hoy, like birds coming to roost.
In Berlin, I met a Finnish girl, who helped me pen
A letter to my grandmother; it mostly said “I love you.”