Gretel – Carol Lefelt

Summers with my grandparents in the“country”
in the Hartford house balanced by two giant fir trees in the frontyard
and bushes with giant bumble bees in the backyard
my Grandma Pauline,
stout, big bosomed Grandma Pauline
squeezed my bony wrist
and declared, “Sweetheart,
we have to fatten you up.”
I watched her cook all morning.
For lunch, luckshon kugel
a fat noodle pudding
rich with eggs, sour cream and pot cheese
sweet with cinnamon, sugar and raisins.
For dinner, she browned and braised a brisket
carrots, onions, celery, apple cider vinegar
deepening its flavor.
Then it was time to find the bundt pan
for my favorite dessert
the coffee cake swirled with chocolate and crumbed with walnuts.
In the pantry, like a Buddha, sat the cookie jar we called Pinky
although he was blue.
I loved his big pouchy prairie dog cheeks,
his apron and his chef’s hat
which I would lift to find Grandma’s oatmeal cookies and mandel bread.
For meat meals – fleishig – we ate on flower patterned china,
For milk meals – milchidik,—we used the blue bubble plates
and I imagined someone happily blowing bubble rings into the glass
capturing and setting the illusion of permanence.

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