Kate Peper

Swiss Border Town in the Time of War

                      —for my mother

               the time of happiness as a private matter is

 over, Hitler rants on the kitchen radio

              shards of music crackle with static,

                                       cow brains sizzle

                           in sardine oil saved

from the tin.

               her mother boils coffee made from chicory,

                                         from acorns, from dust

                                         she wraps an orange in a towel:

            close your eyes and make believe

                            we have a birthday cake for you

                                          the girl closes her eyes and makes

her wish: red shoes

                           for one day, red shoes.