Partying with Aunts

Shalom Aunt Rachel who lives in an apartment building

over the Cross Bronx Expressway — on Passover

my father puts on a gray flannel suit, mama does

taffeta-time with a gentile pleated skirt & Doris

Day hair — she says I don’t want to stay long —

he is silent, Rachel is his sister

all his sisters will be there in fact

he has memories, don’t you know, poor tenement Jews

on Delancy Street among the pushcarts

single boy in a slurry of females.

We park our Buick convertible

shined turquoise with leather seats

take an elevator upstairs to the fifth floor

ring the doorbell — we wait

in the hallway & Uncle Louis opens up —

bright light inside, thick cooking smells

chattering voices & Perry Como sings.

Shalom Louis says in his Yiddish accent, reaches out

to squeeze my mother

she turns stiff, we crowd in.

Shalom Aunt Esther who hugs us in turn

my mother says give her a kiss.

Esther is all red mouth, she is the youngest sister.

Shalom Aunt Rita who waves a greeting from across the room

red hair, body cased in a fancy green evening gown

arm around Uncle Joe who borrowed

money last year from my father

but never paid it back. Shalom jowly

perfumed Aunt Fanny who bends over to embrace me — Uncle

Howard stands sweaty in the background. Shalom Aunt

Frieda who swoops over, her hair is thin & she

has a funny big nose, whoops in joy. All

my cousins are sitting on the floor watching

television — Shalom Stephen whispers to me, I have a lot

of money in a box on the top shelf of my closet. We swallow deep

breaths of gefilter fish & matzoh ball soup & kasha & roast

beef & chicken giblets & gravy & potato kugel & noodle

kugel & challah bread & it’s time to eat — spill sweet

wine on white embroidered tablecloths, card tables stretched from

kitchen through living room all the way to a bedroom door.

Shalom all the aunts laughing in shrill voices, they bustle

about in the cramped rooms serving food. Mama at the far end

from me flirts with Uncle Joe and Howard drinks too much

My father looks happy.

About Karen To and Fro

Everything you didn't want to know about me!
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