I was sausage master of Minsk; young girls brought parsley to my shop and watched as I ground coriander, garlic and calves’ hearts. At harvest time they’d come with sheaves: hags in babushkas, girls plump as quail, wrapped in bright tunics, switching the flanks of oxen. Each to the other, beast and woman, goggle-eyed at the market’s flow. My art is that of my father: even among stinking shepherds, bean- brained as the flocks they tend, our sausages are known. The old man sits in back, ruined in his bones, a scold. So it was my trade brought wealth. My knuckles shone with lard, flecks of summer savory clung to my palms. My shop was pungent with spiced meat and sweat: heat from my boiling pots, my fretful labors with casings, expertly stuffed. Fat women in shawls muttered and swabbed their brows. Kopeks made a racket on my tray. But I would have none of marriage: the eldest son, no boon, even with the shop’s renown, was I to my parents. Among mothers with daughters, full-bottomed, shy, I was a figure of scorn. In that season when trade was a blur, always, from the countryside, there was one, half-formed, whose eyes, unlike the haggling matrons’ squints, roamed and sometimes found my own. And of her I would inquire. Before seed-time they always returned. Tavern men speak freely of knives, of this, of that. Call me a fool. For in spring I would vanish to the hills and in a week return, drawn, remote, my hair mussed, interlaced with fine, pubescent yarn.
Source: Kleinzahler, August. Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club: Poems : 1975-1990. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. Print.