The kitchen a-clatter, three Tantes
set about to prepare potato balls, pot roast, and corn.
The gumbo-yaya: simultaneous chatter, but in German.
Do this! Do that! How long, how hot?
Still sharing tricks and tips,
though each is eighty-five or older.
Inside the potato ball, cubes of buttered bread,
the elaborate cuisine of the poor.
Tante Ella directs me in Folklandische, though I understand only half.
I hold the lid of the boiling pot,
passing bread cubes to her nimble fingers
as she pats and chills potato balls in ice water.
Women from my tribal lands chat away,
patting bread into food, patting children into growth.
In these three Tantes a strong life sings, my family, my tribe,
stopping work to sing together with eyes to Heaven,
picking cornflowers for the women burned,
for the ones annihilated as the hoards went mad...
The Tantes teach me to pat the bread, boil and season.
In the songs of their soft brown skin go the ages.
Annelinde Metzner August 1996
Photo, Metzner Farm Kitchen by Betsy Murray