Tradition & Innovation


close up of latkes (fried potato pancakes)
She chopped and mixed from scratch
in wooden bowls with wooden spoons
by pinch & dash, past twilight
as if Edison had not been born.
Her modest dress of flowered print,
ankle low under full apron,
opaque hose in sturdy black heels
in the simple kitchen where she reigned.
A quiet woman, never idle,
small even in a child's vision
her stature brave as five sons,
dedicated as brothers Maccabee.
Memory laughs at recipes never needed,
root ingredients: potato & onion, words
unable to duplicate homemade goodness.
Who can find a Bubbe like mine?
I still hear sizzle as Bubbe spooned
thin circles into hot oil, smell
rich flavors of poor old-world folk
tastes sociable as sour cream & applesauce.
At the rear of a row, in that dimly lit kitchen
without granite counters or Cuisinart,
she fried latkes crisp, darkened in heavy skillets,
her hair, pepper & salt like the iron.
Grandchildren rewarded with the un-plated best,
with fortified bodies, voices sang,
flames danced and dreidels spun,
renewing freedom's victory.
We shared a Festival of Light.

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