Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Uncle Bill, by Sara Robbins

Uncle Bill Rubin was not a blood relative. He was an old Russian Jew my father sort of adopted. He was the closest thing to a grandfather that I had. He was married to Aunt Anne — a New England Wasp related to the Phyfe's, as in Duncan Phyfe. They were an odd couple in the '50s — like my parents were — a Jew and a shiksa.

They never had children but they had Lassie, an elderly, smelly Collie who had her own room and bed (which smelled). My sister wouldn't go into that room or even pet Lassie, but I loved her. They lived in a sweet older house in a section of Po'town which was in decline. They kept their home clean and orderly. Uncle Bill owned an ancient, huge brown car, which he kept in his garage, covered with blankets. Inside it smelled of mothballs. He drove slowly up Main Street, cars honking; he'd curse in Yiddish. The back seat where I sat was huge and Aunt Anne would let me chew orange Aspergum from her purse.

Uncle Bill was the cook. He made wonderful meatballs and chicken soup. Sometimes dog hair would find its way into the food, which was served on colorful Fiesta plates —orange and cobalt blue. They had a complete set, which years later would be declared hazardous due to lead in the glaze. Everything about their house was old, the furniture, the antique rugs, the fake glowing logs in the unused fireplace in a spare room. I used to love to turn the switch on and watch the red/orange glow. Uncle Bill always told me to turn it off.

Uncle Bill spoke Yiddish with my father when they didn't want us kids to know what they were talking about. He also spoke Russian, Polish, German, and wonderfully accented English. Aunt Anne, who had a long, thin Waspy nose, was quiet and demure, always very sweet and a little dim.

He was a tailor. He made beautiful handmade suits for my father. They would go together to pick out the fabric in New York City. When my brother was Bar Mitzvahed, Uncle Bill made Daddy a gorgeous suit. It was December, and cold out. We had a gathering at our home afterwards and for some reason Daddy went out to check the swimming pool cover. Maybe a strap had come loose. At any rate, somehow he fell into the pool. He yelled and we all came to help him out. Uncle Bill just stood by the pool screaming, "Da Suit, Da Suit!! You are ruining Da Suit!" Later we all laughed.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Maybe the Leaves, by Susanna Drbal

Maybe the leaves that have fallen will feel crisp under your feet, or maybe they will feel spongy.
Maybe you will kick and skip or maybe you will slip and fall.
Maybe the leaves will be chewed up and composted or maybe they will be left to rot in place.
Maybe one will stick to your shoe and it will remind you of your walk outside in the cold and damp.

Maybe one leaf will stick to your windshield, and maybe one leaf will cling to the wiper as you drive, streaking its way across the remains of bugs and bird shit.
Maybe it will wave as it passes, maybe it will try desperately to escape.

Maybe it will escape, a refugee in a forest of evergreens you now drive through.
Maybe you will open the window to invite the scent of pine to enter your car, the box that sometimes feels like a prison, other times a nest.
Maybe many animals have trodden on the pine needles or nosed at them or nudged them into a bed.
Maybe they like the smell as much as you do.

Maybe, as you drive in the forest of pine, you turn down the radio, even though the music has been a comfort to you.
Maybe now you want to hear the wind, the birds, and the creaking limbs.
Maybe you want to hear the scented air, smell the decay of flesh and greenery, and feel the outdoors, whether warm and gentle or cold and bracing, and maybe you will settle into it.
Maybe your hair will tangle in the breeze.
Maybe your eyes will tear up.
Maybe you’ll hear a coyote.
Maybe you’ll catch eyes with a deer.

Maybe you’ll pull over, find an opening in the trees, and follow a path as far as it goes.
Maybe the path ends at a creek.
Maybe the water is cold and clear and maybe there are tiny fish in large schools gathered near a fallen branch.
Maybe the mossy rock feels cool to the touch.
Maybe you see a pretty rock, streaked with color, and maybe you pick it up and feel the earth stop spinning.
Maybe you look up, into the sun where it peeks between clouds, and
Maybe you drop the rock, with a plop, back into the creek to be washed clean, and
Maybe drops fall off your fingers and ripples grow at your feet, bumping at the muddy banks, and

Maybe across the creek stands an animal, you don’t know what it is, and it’s looking at its reflection in the water, making ripples with its nose as it drinks.

Friday, October 28, 2016

HomePlace: short poems written in 3 different groups


 by some members of the Tuesday Morning Writing Circle

Buffalo, New York
our home
a liberal haven
    - Gabrielle Vehar

Buffalo, New York
my wonderful father —
a snowplowin' machine
    - Gabrielle Vehar

Buffalo, New York
sailing on the lake
before it became polluted
    - Gabrielle Vehar

Newark, New York
not Newark, New Jersey
misdirected mail until zipcodes
    - Kim Falstick

Homer
large Victorian houses on main street
rural poverty too
    - Lottie Sweeney

Homer
my backyard
where the willow tree once stood
    - Lottie Sweeney

Homer
frog pond farm
scrap metal sculptures

Tim Burton would admire
    - Lottie Sweeney

Greensburg, Kansas
main tourist attraction:
the world's largest hand-dug well
    - Marty Blue Waters

Greensburg, Kansas
the town redistributed into other counties —
a big honcho tornado
    -Marty Blue Waters

Greensburg, Kansas
no longer feels like home
without the old landmarks
    - Marty Blue Waters

Ithaca
the House of Shalimar —
one-stop shopping for
turquoise jewelry, rolling papers,
gauze shirts, and indian bedspreads
    - Paula Culver

Ithaca
i go into mourning

David Bowie cancels his concert
my sister and i walk — procession style —
down the commons
our black dresses dragging
black veils covering our faces
    - Paula Culver

Ithaca
i come home to myself
after all these years
    - Paula Culver

Pennsylvania farm
sledding down the hill
on the manure shovel
    - Sue Norvell

Pennsylvania farm
on my belly inspecting clover
aha – four leaves!
    - Sue Norvell

Pennsylvania farm
she plants a riot of zinnias
he sees only greys — color blind
    - Sue Norvell

Highland Park, New Jersey
parents play alongside their kids
in front of the houses
    - Sue Perlgut

Highland Park, New Jersey
we kids have our own world
building houses and stores in vacant lots
    - Sue Perlgut

Highland Park, New Jersey
i'm sure there was a high school cheer
but i don't remember it
    - Sue Perlgut

the Bronx
some girls get princess phones
i do not
    - Zee Zahava

the Bronx
the answer is always no
i'll never get to wear nylon stockings
    - Zee Zahava

the Bronx
i discover that olives
make excellent finger puppets
    - Zee Zahava

===

by some members of the Wednesday Morning Writing Circle


Denver
High Holy Days in the Rockies
mom says there we were closer to God
    - Alison Taren

Denver
I always knew which way was west
here, I'm always lost
    - Alison Taren

Denver
new math taught in public schools
now I need a calculator
    - Alison Taren

Cayutaville, New York
biking after dark
I don't wear a helmet
    - Caroline Gates-Lupton

Cayutaville, New York
convertibles zoom by
too many to be a coincidence
    - Caroline Gates-Lupton

Cayutaville, New York
empty playroom
now full of memories and trinkets
    - Caroline Gates-Lupton

Yorktown Heights
walking to the orthodontist
avoiding the boys on the corner
    - Christine Sanchirico

Yorktown Heights
secret shortcut through the woods
everyone knew where it was
    - Christine Sanchirico

Yorktown Heights
front lawns manicured and tidy
I plant corn
    - Christine Sanchirico

Cleveland
worst winter blizzard in decades
i can't breathe when i walk
    - Elizabeth Burns

Cleveland
my first visit to a deli
salami on rye
    - Elizabeth Burns

Cleveland
riding the rapid transit on Saturdays
to the West Side Market
    - Elizabeth Burns

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
stand at the rear of the ferry
white foam swirling
    - Fran Helmstadter

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
along Shore Road
we bicycled to Coney Island
    - Fran Helmstadter

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Norwegian bakery on Saturdays
deep breaths of rich crumb cake
    -Fran Helmstadter

the river
the call of loons, coyotes, a farmer's cow
I wake to the sound of power tools
    - Hilary Fraser

the river
seventeen rows of clouds
stretch to the horizon
    - Hilary Fraser

the river
looking over my toes in bed
I see Canada
    - Hilary Fraser

Queens, New York
no car
walk to the bus then the subway
    - Madeleine Cohen Oakley

Queens, New York
our neighbor, a theater critic
excited after seeing "My Fair Lady"
    - Madeleine Cohen Oakley

Queens, New York
my brother and I share
black and white malteds
at the corner drug store
25 cents
    - Madeleine Cohen Oakley

West Newbury, Vermont
the old cemetery
sad little children's graves
    - Mary Louise Church

West Newbury, Vermont
the general store
Lawrence Tyler's wandering hands
    - Mary Louise Church

West Newbury, Vermont
the Tyler farm
the huge white bull
    - Mary Louise Church

West Hempstead, Long Island
looking out the kitchen window
mom bathes me in the sink
    - Rainbow Crow

West Hempstead, Long Island
smoking in the ravine with friends
accidentally burning down the driving range
    - Rainbow Crow

West Hempstead, Long Island
destroying my brand new bike
demolition derby
    - Rainbow Crow

Fargo
seven tornadoes
me, safe in her womb
    - Ross Haarstad

Fargo
train whistles at night
rumbling track lullaby
    - Ross Haarstad

Fargo
the Red River
is muddy green
    - Ross Haarstad


Silver Lake
the crooked tree in the yard
Grandma told us to encourage it
    - Susanna Drbal

Silver Lake
swans in the pen
buckets of rotting lettuce
    - Susanna Drbal

Silver Lake
tipping the sailboat
stuck on a sandbar
    - Susanna Drbal

the Bronx
men place bets in the candy store
off limits to children
    - Zee Zahava

the Bronx
my younger sister, my mother, and i
identical dresses
a woman on the subway asks
if we are triplets
    - Zee Zahava

the Bronx
my father mistakes the Patty Play Pal doll
for my sister . . .
excuse me darling he says
after bumping into it
    - Zee Zahava


==

by some members of the Thursday Morning Writing Circle

New Jersey
still rural and fresh
the woods are my home
    - Annie Wexler

New Jersey
I am 10

young men go off to Korea
    - Annie Wexler

New Jersey
"don't go to the pool"
polio panic haunts my mother
    - Annie Wexler

Barrie, Ontario
the smell of pancakes in an electric frying pan
I eat mine with lemon and sugar
    - Barbara Cartwright

Barrie, Ontario
doing the dishes with my mother
explaining the poetry of Simon & Garfunkel
    - Barbara Cartwright

Barrie, Ontario
listening to Brahms with earphones
my mind traveling far beyond our living room
    - Barbara Cartwright

Long Beach, Long Island
strolled on the boardwalk every day
ocean singing in my infant ears
    - Mara Alper

Valley Stream, Long Island
the grass grows too tall one summer
we frolic like leopards
    - Mara Alper

Valley Stream, Long Island
she is mad at us, threatens with the belt
but never uses it, never ever
    - Mara Alper

Nyack, New York
looking for hawks migrating south
over the Hudson
    - Michael Shaff

Nyack, New York
my first job, mowing grass at a state park
I run over a copperhead snake
    - Michael Shaff

Etna, New York
the duck pond
bullets fly overhead
    - Michael Shaff

Johnson City
at 12 we hang out at the mall
at 17 we work there
    - Stacey Murphy

Johnson City
no one questions Columbus Day
on the way to the parade
    - Stacey Murphy

Choconut Center
my mom in a witch costume
scaring trick-or-treaters home
    - Stacey Murphy

Knapp Creek
Bobbie Lawson and I compete
to be the best at softball
    - Sue Crowley

Knapp Creek
winter, my body numb
I stand over the heat grate as mom peels away wet clothes
    - Sue Crowley

San Diego
dad lifts me to his shoulders
we march into the high waves
    - Sue Crowley

Denton, Texas
June bugs buzz and float
upside down in the yellow porch light
    - Susan Lesser

Denton, Texas
garden roses bloom
father stoops to smell their perfume
    - Susan Lesser

Denton, Texas
mother gazes out at the distant horizon
she misses Canada
    - Susan Lesser

Flushing, Queens
mostly I stayed inside
dreaming of other places
    - Yvonne Fisher

Flushing, Queens
the painting of the Arc De Triomphe
in our shabby living room
    - Yvonne Fisher

Flushing, Queens
we went to the movies
the ceiling filled with stars
    - Yvonne Fisher

the Bronx
that bad man in the button store
flirts with my mother
    - Zee Zahava

the Bronx
after the blizzard
men on our block take turns with the shovel
    - Zee Zahava


the Bronx
dad grows a beard
i stop kissing him
    - Zee Zahava




Thursday, October 27, 2016

Autumn, by Jayne Demakos

It's not that I don't love autumn. I want to convince her that I 
do — the way my soul takes on the interior golden hue; the crisp chill and the simple need for a sweater; the husks of leaves collecting daily. Once green up there — those youngins — now old caskets turning to dust under my feet down here - on the street, on the pavement. I love these things! They are the familiar rhymes of poems that have always made sense to me. But my bones remember the menopause of winter. Barren skeletons of trees against the steely mirror of the sky and my marrow freezes, anticipates the chill of death when God is forgotten. The fire is out and water runs cold from the faucet. It's time to collect my friends. My birthday is coming and it's always the rallying call each year. Halloween, All Soul’s Day, Day of the Dead. Come, let us go into winter together. Light a fire in the middle of our circle. The central hearth that has always kept us warm.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Color Memories

Written by members of the Tuesday Morning Writing Circle on August 30, the first session of the new season, 15 minutes devoted to this theme . . . .



Black

I have almost always worn something black. I don't do it for attention or to make a statement. I started out in elementary school, wearing black at concerts, where I played piano or violin, or where I sang. Black is the color of concert dress, so I wore it. No big deal. In junior high I was playing a lot of music, so I wore a lot of black. I often had to play in school, so I wore black all day long. By high school I was always wearing something black. I was severely depressed and had a full-blown eating disorder. Black suited my lifestyle, my mood, and my body. Even if nothing else, I would wear a black bandana around my neck. My high school boyfriend caught on to my scheme and would beg me to take off the bandana. I wouldn't. (Well, except when we were naked. But my pupils were still black, so ha on him.) In college I was a theatre and dance major. It went without saying that I would always have black on. When people asked me why, I quoted Masha in Chekhov's The Seagull, who said, "I am in mourning for my life." I was kidding, but kind of not, too. Flash forward to now: I wear all black. All the time. It's easy, it's simple, I never have to match anything. It's no big deal. Truly. Trust me when I tell you. Black suits me and I suit it. Simple.
    - Gabrielle Vehar


Blue/Green

The blue and green dress my mother wore was my favorite. The fit was perfect for her after she lost a lot of weight after open-heart surgery. Her energy increased and happiness ensued, after the surgery. I loved joking and playing with her, soft games, nothing too physical. I always wondered how she chose the perfect shade of lipstick to go with the blue and green dress. I favor blue and green myself.
    - Grace Celeste


Ballet Pink

If you are a female dancer pink automatically becomes your color. When you are a little beginner, typically the class attire is ballet pink — a light pink, sort of a seashell pink — leotards, tights, and soft ballet slippers. As you progress through the ranks pink remains your friend. Standard class attire is black leotard, pink tights, and if you are proficient enough: pointe shoes. Still seashell pink, but now satiny and shiny. Back in the '70s dancers revolted and started wearing — gasp! — colored leotards. Mine was a sort of watermelon pink. My ballet professor in college called us Easter Eggs. I hope he was referring to our colors and not our shapes. If you were lucky enough to make it to the stage, pink was everywhere. The fairy pink of the Sugar Plum's tutu in Nutcracker. The deep royal pink of Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. The innocent, barely-there-pink of Giselle before she is betrayed by her lover. And yes, there is the pink of your sweaty, exhausted face, at the end of class.
    - Kim Falstick


Teal
   
I live in a teal-colored house — not my choice. Rather, Mrs. Sagan dreamed up the color and had Sherwin Williams create it. But I was attracted to the house on the corner because of its unique color. Teal. Not blue, not green, but a perfect mix of the two. Teal takes me back, back to college days. I'd been making many of my own clothes since I was 12, but the dark teal velvety corduroy jumper was my absolute favorite. With a sophisticated white blouse the teal jumper accented my own colors. My brown hair was deep and dark, my cheeks were rosy. I looked good! And I felt so good every time I wore it. It was so special. But sadly I don't know what happened to it. I'd like to open my closet door and see it hanging there in all its teal glory. 50 years later I still love teal — now it goes well with white hair.
    - Linda Keeler


Blue

My early years were filled with the color blue. It was the Virgin Mary's color, after all, and our classrooms and our church were filled with statues and pictures of her. Often she was depicted by the sea, and then there was more blue. Light blue, dark blue. The nuns told us, erroneously of course, that she was blond with blue eyes. Consequently, I was always chosen to portray her in any school pageant or play. Interestingly, Peter LeMay was always tapped to play Joseph, because he had black hair and dark brown eyes. Apparently the nuns had some different image of the masculine that was, or course, never explained. I was always disappointed that they didn't pick E. J. Burke, my first love that lasted from kindergarten until 8th grade, but that's another story entirely. His eyes were green, like grapes. So I would be draped in blue, blue gown, blue headgear, blue rosary beads. Always feeling like an impostor. I knew in my heart that I had thoughts that the Virgin Mary never had, but I didn't dare protest. Funny, I only recently started wearing blue again and I find I like it. Maybe I am more comfortable in myself, or maybe I think of Mary as more human? Anyway, I hope she liked the color.
    - Margaret Dennis


Rainbow

From the time I was a very young girl I liked to climb a tree when I saw a storm coming. Bracing myself against the wind as it grew to gale force was a special treat — I had to hug to a branch very tightly and feel it swaying as it also coped with the situation. Maybe, even more exciting than that, was the great good fortune of seeing a rainbow arch its way over my head after the storm passed. I loved the way the colors melted into each other in a seamless streak of light. From darkest purple all the way through to the fairness of yellow-white. I tried to count how many colors I could pick out of the blend. And, as it faded away, I sent a prayer out to the Rainbow Queen, thanking her for this exquisite encounter with colors.
    - Marty Blue Waters


Navy Blue

This was my favorite color for most of my life — a particular shade of navy, in stripes that alternated with white on a sleeveless sundress I had when I was six. We lived in a house in Liverpool, New York, with a big screened-in porch. In the summer this is where we ate dinner. My mother would set up card tables — the big one for her and my father; the little red one for my sister, brother, and me. The porch was shaded and cool in the summer with rush matting on the floor. No one else I knew had a porch like this, or ate their meals outside the dining room. Late in the day on these summer afternoons my mother would call us in from the yard and tell us it was time to wash up and change for dinner. I'd go up to the room I shared with my sister and pull out the blue and white striped dress from the closet. After I'd washed the dirt off my knees and hands, I'd put on the dress and immediately feel cool and elegant. Soon after, my father would arrive home from work and we'd find our seats at the table. I'd smooth down the navy blue and white striped skirt, sit up straight in my chair, and love every minute of being on the porch, on a warm summer evening, with my parents, sister, and brother.
    - Nancy Osborn


Purple


As a teenager, I had a purple boa. Not feather, not a snake, but a sheep-skin boa that I wore, which made me feel exactly like Janis Joplin. It was a shade or two darker than lilac, but not a deep purple. It was lovely. And became somewhat matted. But I loved it as a child loves her teddy bear. It's lost, but not forgotten.
    - Paula Culver

Yellow

Running out in the field behind our house to break ears of corn off the tall stalks. Pulling back the rough husks and pale green-yellow silk to reveal perfect rows of sunshine yellow corn. Cooking it until it was bright yellow and shiny, and then slathering it with pale yellow creamy butter, while turning it round with the other hand, making sure all sides were covered. Doing the same with salt. And then eating it like you were typing, butter running down your chin.
    - Paula Culver

Black and White

Feeling like everything in our house was black and white and everything outside was in color. Like the Wizard of Oz. Let me out.
    - Paula Culver


Opal

The colors in an opal ring I wore — white, pink, beige, sparkle — matched the hand-sewn sequins on the mini dress my mother made me. The bodice sparkled and the rest was a satiny pale, pale pink. I wore white tights and pearl-colored shoes. My lipstick was pink, my perfume Tabu. My boyfriend picked me up in his mother's white car with pale blue leather seats. We drove to a new dance club across town. There was a disco ball which seemed to match my ring and my dress. We danced and danced, fast and slow. Then after dancing for hours we sat in his car and kissed for a long time. He was a gentleman, but I always wanted more. He drove me home at the proper hour and walked me to the front door, where my parents were waiting. We said goodnight with a chaste kiss, my lipstick all gone. He left with my heart. I took off my dress and sparkling ring, etc. I dreamed of his kisses.
    - Sara Robbins

Red/Blue/Purple

I got married in an old red shirt of my father's, and blue jeans, by a Justice of the Peace. At our reception the next day I wore a long purple dress — loose rayon — to accommodate my 3-month baby belly. I still have that dress in my closet — dusty and faded. I wonder if it still fits.
    - Sara Robbins


Red

Red — On Eastern Long Island, if we were very observant, patient, and lucky, we'd find indian paint pots in plowed fields being readied for the new potato crop. The pots were round bits of red sandstone with an indentation worn in the middle where dampened fingers of Shinnecock Indians had rubbed the stone to pick up color. We spit on our fingers, rubbed, and traced sienna markings on our arms.

Red — The color of zinnias in a street-side garden. We zoomed past on our bikes as we raced to the school playground to play baseball.

Red — The color of the roses Mme. Jeanne grew in her courtyard. It was a small, hidden spot behind her hairdressing studio, sheltered between our protruding bakery wall and the wall of the tiny neighborhood grocery on the other side. It was a bit of her home country, where only French was spoken.

Red — Always the color of my little sister's sunsuits. Red with small blue doll-like figures one year; red with tiny yellow and blue flowers another. Each wore out in the seat by the end of the summer.
    - Sue Norvell


Pink and Orange

Not my memory, but my mother's excuse for why I got the smallest bedroom in our house. We moved into the house in 1943. I was 9 months old, which is why it's not my memory. My bedroom, until I moved out in 1961, was painted pink. Over the years I hung pictures on the wall, and as a teenager, after seeing a picture in Seventeen magazine, I hung an orange fishnet over two walls of my room. On that orange fishnet I put photos, magazine articles, postcards, and anything else I felt like hanging up. It was under this orange fishnet that I would lie on my bed and listen to Johnny Mathis singing "Wonderful Wonderful" over and over and over again. My mother's excuse for me being in the smallest bedroom was that the painter painted the wrong room pink, and thus it became mine. It wasn't until I was much older, and the house was sold, that it occurred to me that at 9 months old I wouldn't have cared if my room was wallpapered with cowboys. But then again, maybe at two years old my brother would have objected to pink.
    - Sue Perlgut

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Declutter Meditation, by Stacey Murphy

On the inhale, 
I breathe in an open shoe-rack

On the exhale, 

I remove an unhelpful thought


On the inhale,

I make space on a shelf

On the exhale, 

I place an old habit in the trash bag


On the inhale, 

I smell gentle lemony cleaners

On the exhale, 

the old tattered blanket goes to the animal shelter


On the inhale, 

is space and potential

On the exhale, 

comes limitless creation

Saturday, July 9, 2016

In the Kitchen, by Yvonne Fisher



In the kitchen we sat at a small round table eating close together.

In the kitchen I pumped my Bosco chocolate syrup into my milk every morning: one, two, three, four, five, six pumps of chocolate. I grew up on a diet of sugar and potato chips.

In the kitchen we had a half grapefruit as an appetizer for dinner. My mother cut the grapefruit in half and we used little serrated spoons to cut out tiny little grapefruit sections and then we would squeeze the remaining grapefruit juice into the bowl and we would drink it down.

In the kitchen we could look out the window in the early years and actually see the Empire State Building all the way in the distance. Could that possibly be true? The sunsets were incredible in that housing project wasteland where we lived.

In the kitchen we ate goulash all the time. My parents' food from the old country. I spit out the fat from the meat and pushed it under the rim of the plate, hoping my mother wouldn't see it.

In the kitchen my mother would threaten to hit us with a wooden spoon when we were bad or fighting with each other, my brother, Michael, and me.

Every time my mother would open the drawer with the wooden spoon we would scream and beg her and promise to be good.

In the kitchen I never wanted to eat.

In the kitchen the TV would be on blasting in the living room while we ate our meals.

In the kitchen one day my father cut his arm and hit a vein or an artery and blood spurted out everywhere while I watched in horror.

In the kitchen there was a rotary phone with a ringlet cord where we all would talk on the phone. My mother would gossip in Yiddish to her friends for hours.

In the kitchen I sat by that phone and waited and waited for my boyfriend to call.

In the kitchen my parents found a used washing machine and brought it home and when they opened the top a million cockroaches ran out while I watched in horror.

In the kitchen I quietly snuck cookies at night after everyone went to sleep. I couldn't stop eating cookies.

In the kitchen I stayed up all night typing my report for school the night before it was due on an old, rusty typewriter.

In the kitchen I couldn't see the Empire State Building anymore after they built that tall apartment building. I couldn't see sunsets anymore. There was only a little sky left.

In the kitchen I listened to the radio when I came home for lunch while my mother sang along: I love you a bushel and a peck.

In the kitchen I fought with my mother about when I would wash the dishes. I washed them as late as I possibly could.

In the kitchen I danced around while my brother was seriously learning to cook.

In the kitchen I read books because I had no place else to go.

In the kitchen we ate creamed spinach, creamed corn. Everything was creamed.

In the kitchen my father died. He collapsed right there in the kitchen. I called the doctor on the rotary phone. He said he would come over. We waited for the doctor to come. My mother was leaning over my father's body. My brother was playing knock hockey at the community center. I was standing at the door waiting for the doctor. When the doctor came he told my mother to give mouth to mouth resuscitation. They closed the door to the kitchen. I didn't see when my father died.  My mother walked from room to room, keening. I followed her from room to room. My father lay dead in the kitchen. Someone went to get my brother.

A week later we sat in the kitchen. It was Thanksgiving. We had no turkey. We had no Thanksgiving after that.

In the kitchen we sat at the round little table and looked out the window at what was left of the sky.