Erica Goss


When I was seven food I threw away
reappeared on my plate each day until I ate it,
blubbering, licking tears 

from the corners of my mouth.  You had a hunger,
have it still, for green potatoes, rubbery turnips,
apples bitten past the seeds.

Dried cheese rinds, cold cups of tea,
and morsels of bread, always bread
littered the kitchen counters of my childhood.

If only I had understood their power,

your crude magic.  In the war the neighbors
called you Hamster for your talent.

You scoured torn streets with your little bag

while your mother and sisters lay quietly starving.
 "Bitte geehrter Herr, kann ich den haben?"*

At seventeen I drove until I lost sight of you

and flung my lunch from the blue Toyota, watched
it burst open, orange rolling away from the dented

sandwich, the small box of raisins intact.

I did not see you pick up scraps of paper bag
and wet bread hours later.

Had I only known,

I might have been a better daughter.
I might still be your child. 

*"Please, sir, may I have that?"

Erica Goss is a writer from Los Gatos, CA.  Her poems, reviews, and essays appear or are forthcoming in Caveat Lector, Zoland Poetry, Main Street Rag, and Pearl, among others. She has won a number of prizes for her writing and been nominated for a Pushcart prize.  She teaches poetry and art in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is the South Bay Arts Reporter for 



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