The silverware does not leaponto the table in formation:forks stand sentry to the left,puffed chested knives to the right.The spoons are resigned to their lowly status,short and squat, though they still boastthat stirring the milk and sugaris crucial to release the subjectsthat turn on the tongue.
Someone must always set the table.In his family it was my father's task.He tilted all the silverware towardshis sister Rosie's place.Predictably she shrieked, a nooseof sound tightening around the table.Their parents never caught on, [End Page 68] even though a shriek is the same in any language.Too busy and tired under their burdenof immigrant worries to understand sibling rivalry,much less to care about the tilt of knife and fork.That rivalry lasted a lifetime,long after the silverware, an incomplete set by this time,was boxed up and given to charity, curses and all. [End Page 69]
Carol V. Davis won the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg. She was twice a Fulbright scholar in Russia and the first American to teach at the Jewish University in St. Petersburg. Her work has been read on NPR and Radio Russia. She teaches at Santa Monica College, CA, and was the 2008 Poet-in-Residence at Olivet College, MI. In November 2010 she will read at the Library of Congress. You can reach Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org