Water, Water + Loaves and Fishes – Sue Russell


The Hebrew water song
is piped in through the corridors
of Menorah Park Center for Senior Living.
In the city of the old, dancers move
inward toward the center of memory
making a fountain with outstretched arms
fulfilling, for now,  the promise of redemption
like water to the dry land,
joyful water, again and again.
Hey mayim besason.


My mother is not a glittering fish
from somebody else’s poem
but Mother’s is a brand, one generation
removed, for gefilte fish, that dish
the goyim love to hate we buy in a jar
and “doctor up” for Passover.
Our grandmothers went to the neighborhood fish man
(Today, who has a fish man?)
who handed over  his tired, poor skeletons
along with the carp itself. They ground the fish
by hand,  added eggs and matzoh meal as a binder,
then shaped and dropped the loaves in the skeletal broth.
Today, in their jar, the pale nubby loaves float
in sweet aspic.  We serve them on a clear glass tray
topped with sliced carrot jewels,
red horseradish on the side for dipping,
or eat them straight from the jar
without our goyim present
and remember what we remember.


Sue Russell’s poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in “Kenyon Review,” “Killing the Buddha,” “The Women’s Review of Books,” and other publications. She works as an editor of medical journals for a Philadelphia publisher and is a regular reviewer of short story collections for “Library Journal.”

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