Issue 13

Autumn 2014


In My Mother's Kitchen

               London, 1980

I slice rye bread, find myself repeating the German word
for bread, an alien sound my throat, tongue, lips can make as

easily as papa, mama. “Brot, brot.” I glance at my mother,
wonder if she's heard, but she's focussed on my son who's

building trains with wooden blocks. In her hand a box of
empty spools, people for pretend. I fill the space between us

with a whispered, “Brot, brot.” Again, I'm the errant child
picking at a lock. It's her deep-set eyes, round face

I kept searching for in newsreels, glossy photo essays:
clogged roads, food lines, ragged refugees. 

I learned that much, not more, played out the rest: 
She carries me on her back, climbs a hill to a farmhouse,

lilacs near the door. A widow takes us in, offers bread
that's never mouldy, never hard. Brot. There's butter, currant jam.

No one's starving, strafed or raped. My mother's reaching for a water jug,
“Water,” she says in Ukrainian. My son holds out his cup. “Vody,” he echoes.


Louisa Howerow