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Friday, July 6, 2012

Pictures of Home by Julie Hill Alger

In the red-roofed stucco house
of my childhood, the dining room 
was screened off by folding doors 
with small glass panes. Our neighbors
the Bertins, who barely escaped Hitler, 
often joined us at table. One night 
their daughter said, In Vienna 
our dining room had doors like these.
For a moment, we all sat quite still. 

And when Nath Nong, who has to live
in Massachusetts now, saw a picture 
of green Cambodian fields she said, 
My father have animal like this, 
name krebey English? I told her, 
Water buffalo. She said, Very very
good animal. She put her finger 
on the picture of the water buffalo 
and spoke its Khmer name once more. 

So today, when someone (my ex-
husband) sends me a shiny picture 
of a church in Santa Cruz that lost 
its steeple in the recent earthquake 
there's no reason at all 
for my throat to ache at the sight
of a Pacific-blue sky and an old church
three thousand miles away, because 
if I can only save enough money 

I can go back there any time
and stay as long as I want. 

-Julie Alger

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