From Medford New Jersey


 Soul Food

Before rich brocade draped somber white,

Adorned crystal goblets and bowls of forest green,

My heart ladled your graced reflection,

And, I was home...again.

Neither Black-out cake nor Pecan pie

Sugar-coated, drenched sweetness,

Could tempt my hungry, widened eyes,

Stirred by familial laughter.

Broken English spoken then,

Potent Yiddish, resistant to change,

Clear puzzle pieces splicing dementia,

Our fortuitous feast renamed ...”a picnic.”

“Ma, did you take your pill?”

“Where’d you park?” “Hope your battery’s still there!”

“Awww, Brooklyn’s not the same without you!”

Cue the chorus, vocalizing violin mimicry, gesturing bows, teasingly smug.

There’s a predictable headache looming,

Still, cousin Ri bellows, “There’s a place for..youuu.....”

Sudden mention of a cat eating pretzels, while Minew prefers Bac-os.

Conversations zig-zag, rampantly inaudible, you lean in...whatcha up to?

And there IS life here...


Beyond the palate,

Unrestrained, indulgent, well-textured and juicy.

Mom laments,“The cake is lousy.”

Aunt Minnie, fired-up and Brooklyn-lit, concurs ...“It’s reeevulting!”

“Seven layers of dirt (cake)”, yelled from across the apartment.

Depression era humor surfaces, endless jokes about reused teabags.

“How come Dolly Parton’s feet are so small?”

“Because things don’t grow in the shade!”

All guffaws and devilish grins,

One foot in the closet, he lovingly gifts me a cavalcade of heterosexual one-liners.

“Miss you Cuzzies.”

“Give those cats a kiss for me.”

Where once, we were young adult ‘children’,

First pet owners, then parents ourselves...first course, then last.

Continuing our game of musical chairs,

Generations shift, change, move on

Memory soaked in the wine of our time,

Momentarily quenched and bittersweet.

Long ago, reading the solemn passage from the Passover Haggadah, “The bread of affliction”,

amid end to end bridge tables, bestrewn with tapestries and side-eyed smiles,

Uncle Al mistakenly utters.... “The bread of AFFECTION.”

This completes our nourishing meal, an overflowing bounty, plates endlessly full.



Cindy Weinstein currently holds a bachelor’s degree in special education and has worked primarily with the deaf preschool and elementary population. She feels grateful for having witnessed, on numerous occasions, the unique gifts and talents offered by the students in her care. Cindy is our ground reporter for Medford, N.J.







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