Sylvie Baumgartel

The Hamburg Sisters in Nebraska

We don’t talk about that.
We make fruitcakes.
We love our husbands like cardboard.
We keep our nails trimmed close.
The skin under our eyes is like
Drowned moons.
The skin between our eyes is
Gathered like skirt pleats.
We hide our purple nipples.
We forget our language.
You can’t speak it anymore anyway.
We crochet dresses from bakery string.
We stink of candy grease.
We collect dolls with soft cloth
Bodies & hard limbs.
At church they say to us:
You stink of doughnuts, poor idiots.
The folks who eat our
Doughnuts call us “hamburgers.”
They think it’s funny.
Moving from South Dakota to Nebraska.
To Iowa. Back to Nebraska.
Town to town after the bakery fails.
The children stink of bakery grease.
We can’t wash off that smell
Even when bathed in kerosene.
We press violets in dictionaries.
We starve in the basement
During a tornado.