At Sven’s
for Helen Padway

Without you
they no longer speak,
these restless, long-suffering,
long brave, angry, determined,
long or recently dead, dear women
who kneaded, stewed, boiled, preserved,
packed what could not be lost
and moved over oceans to start again
roasting, pickling, sewing, sweeping, saving.

With you,
with the way you bring them
to the soup, bread, meat, muffins, tea, coffee,
to the dill, garlic, paprika, ginger, cream and sugar,
to the adjective, comma, article, noun, verb debates,
to the elastic love, to the dawning laughter,
to the peace of our table,
these women
live in the song of your insight,
rest in the vision of your voice.

—Margaret Rozga, Milwaukee