As the elevator door ticked shut, my neighbor
Villam lurched in and, red-faced, gripped my arm
and chortled, “Pivko, pivko,” taking pulls
from a mimed bottle—beer, a little beer.
My Slovak too rough for a polite decline,
I let him drag me down the ice-slicked block.
Inside the corner potraviny, Villam dropped
two euros on the counter, shoved a lukewarm
bottle in my hands—“Pi, pi.” (Drink, drink.)
Villam was old. His face was old. He stank
of sweat, and bacon grease, and borovi?ka.
I think he lived alone (I lived alone),
and I couldn’t understand a thing he slurred
except, “môj syn, môj syn”—My son, my son.
"Martin, Slovakia" was originally published in Revolution House, vol. 2, no. 1.