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Pictures of Home

by
  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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