Thursday, June 16, 2022


His worldly, educated
Older brother in the States
Has sent an American

Friend from grad school who’s touring
The continent by Eurail
Youthpass, backpack, and shoestring

To stop in Leutershausen
And stay with his family.
The guest doesn’t speak German,

And no one else speaks English
Other than that brother off
In the States, but the guest learns

A little German small talk
With startling alacrity.
He is a tiny person,

Stumpy, with a huge brown beard,
Wearing brown and olive clothes,
Like one of the Moosleute

Sprung to life in their garden
Among their tall sunflowers.
Like any good moss person,

It turns out he has a gift
As thanks for the family’s
German hospitality—

The little American
Sits with the younger brother
And helps him with a project

The worldly older brother
With impeccable English
Had always felt beneath him—

Making sense of the lyrics,
Puns, and subtle allusions
Of the songs of Billy Joel,

Which the younger brother loves
Without understanding. Days
In the garden after work,

The brother and the moss man
Labor over translations
Into Bayerische Deutsch

To their mutual, bizarre
Satisfaction. At the end
Of the week, the small moss man

Hops on a train, having learned
A mysterious amount
Of German, and the brother

Feels at last he comprehends
The songs he sings at the shop
In phrasings that make no sense.

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