Stevieslaw: Entanglements


Mom’s enormous family
gathered once a month
in what they called the cousins club.
The women wore their best—
outfits from Saks and Macy’s
and the men would comb and shave
and try to pass muster.

My brother and I,
Scrubbed, fed
and relegated to the back bedroom,
listened to the murmurs
and protestations
of gossiping
and gambling.

We longed for the food.
There might be
cold cuts and salads
from the local deli,
or smoked fish and bagels,
or the crown jewels
of brisket and potato kugel,
cooked all day in an aunt’s steamy kitchen.
We drooled
and listened to our bellies grumble.

We made brief feeding forays
when the chatter had softened
to the whisper of innuendo.
I often marveled at the miraculous
revival of even the oldest
of my uncles and aunts.
They arrived
sallow and pained
then absorbed the energy
of that gathering of closest kin,
and bloomed.

I could find no explanation
in the gentle baiting and bickering
that characterized their affection,
so pajamaed and half asleep
I imagined them
rooted in the generous earth—
black and life-teeming.
And those roots, I felt sure,
must intermingle
and, through those myriad entanglements
the stuff of happiness must flow.

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2 Responses to Stevieslaw: Entanglements

  1. John Ziegler says:

    You were blessed with such family, your ability to remember and value and brisket on top of it all!


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