by Andy Fogle

We take a train from Bremerhaven to another town to the south, and when we get off, they lead me from the station to a small field with reeds taller than us. In the middle, an open circle: beer cans, cigarette butts, a condom wrapper. A bottle appears from Scott’s jacket pocket; I drink with them, but do not smoke. Seventeen, and I wasn’t sure kids really did this. Later, a waitress our age brings us pizza in a café, and I am not afraid to look in her calm, bright eyes. I am not afraid to hold the look.

IMAGE: Jägermeister, a German liqueur made with 56 herbs and spices at a strength of 35% alcohol by volume.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE TITLE: “Speisen” is a German word that can have a few meanings, most interestingly enough for this piece “power,” “supply,” and “food.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:The summer between my junior and senior years of high school, my father, grandmother, and I took a trip to visit my aunt (sister and daughter of my father and grandmother, respectively) and her family in Germany, where they’d lived for a decade by then. I had not indulged in many substances at the time, and could be talkative yet tentative around girls, and so the trip for me was a very straightforward cultural awakening. It’s simple, my memory—memory, period, perhaps—is made of fragments, and I’ve been slowly trying to set down slivers of that trip into vignettes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andy Fogle has five chapbooks of poetry, with poems, translations, memoir, interviews, criticism, and educational research in Mid-American Review, Blackbird, South Dakota Review, Natural Bridge, Reunion: The Dallas Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, Teachers & Writers Collaborative, English Journal, Gargoyle, and elsewhere. He lives in upstate New York, teaching high school and working on a PhD in Education.