First, I place you
in the memory of last year's
family reunion Christmas party,
and see how you fit.

How will you handle
the children
the seven layers of language
the laughter,
the crusts of Christmas bread
speckled with candied orange
and smeared with prune butter?

Will you hide upstairs,
under the pretext of childcare
or constipation?
Will you speak politics with the wrong uncle?
Do you mind sitting on the floor?
How recently have you read the Harry Potter books?
Will you point out
the frozen pieces of shrimp,
or that the children are sneaking
slivovitz from their parents'
unattended cups?

How do you hold up under interrogation?

And when my face breaks
from beaming, will you
ease the soreness
with something softer,
less toothy,
more gentle
than love?  

Dane Kuttler is a Seattle poet who used to be a Massachusetts poet, but has always been a Jewish poet, a bit of a
cranky poet, and a pretty good cook. Her work is generally influenced by her fellow performance poets, and
occasionally edited on such public forums as, which she believes is only a little bit tragic,
and a little bit cool.

The piece "Memo" was the result of an exercise at the BENT writing institute in Seattle, an innovative writing school for queer folks.  The family Christmas party (a bizarre thing, for a Jewish family, but it's a long story) is so sacrosanct I didn't think I could ever write about it.  This piece was a surprise when it came out - but a delight.  I wonder how my family might take it.



Copyright 2009