I want to know what the Sioux thought of lutefisk.
I’m confused because her act
was one of kindness but unsettles me. Mrs. Engebretsen,
with her fjords, aquavit,
flat bread, Norwegian Bible, her New World,
setting a table with white linen
for the impoverished Indians. I think of this
because it’s what I’d do, or would want to, the ugliness
of need requiring some gesture.
There’s the story of the Pentecost, people gathered to share
a meal, brought together by the act of remembering,
then the tongues of flame, everyone
understanding each other’s language. I think of Mrs. Engebretsen
looking at her guests—strangers
living on the same land
but in their own lost landscapes—and not knowing
what to say to them, keeping
the conversation going with small talk.