had logo

1. hospitals (die Krankenhäuser)
2. airports (die Flughäfen)
3. churches (die Kirchen)
4. that’s it.

Per a worksheet in my German etiquette class for expats, 

all others are places where 

man darf nicht cry. 

I could have used that worksheet 

months earlier.

For our final session, we go to a restaurant with: 

1. thick cloth napkins
2. lighting that suggests intimacy
3. surgically-calibrated place settings
4. cascading silverware. 

For us, no menu—each student is served a whole cooked fish, eyes and all. 

In a Spanish-speaking country, this fish would be 
one thing if he were alive, 
and a different thing 
                                 once he was dead.

Here, he is just a fish, no matter what. 

My husband, beside me, inhales sharply. 
It still has its eyes, he hisses. 


For months, he has been searching 
for work back in the U.S.
grasping for future foothold
out of transatlantic adventure turned foggy  

hovering, tenuous limbo

uncertain beings in a beautiful land, yes-no only
no space for grays, in-betweens
for that which is not one                     or the other.

At the table, the professor delineates 
how we will contribute to das Trinkgeld
after the meal.

Picking up the deboning fork, I stare
the fish in its unseeing Baltic orb
lean in slowly

smile, covertly whisper:

  1. But what about restaurants?
  2. And what did you used to cry about?
  3. Did you cry when you lived in the ocean?
  4. Could anyone else tell?