My Oma learned English in a grocery store. Sure, she knew some already but it was really only enough phrases to get to Sydney on. So two weeks later while she stood in line describing the round, yellow thing she needed, she realized how far she’d run.

“Citroen” she kept repeating, Dutch being one of the few things the war hadn’t taken from her. She paced and panted, eventually it got through.

“Lemon, love. Lemon.” The grocer held it up at eye level.

It was one of the first words she taught my mother. My mother though, always preferred citroen.




Laurence Levy-Atkinson is a writer and poet based in Melbourne, Australia. His work deals with themes of identity, aging and history and can be found in Poetica Magazine among various online sources.