Hunger hung over us no matter how well-fed
we were in that apartment kitchen barely wide
enough to walk through with arms spread.
I swear my mom could qualify as a
prize contender for pandemic preparation—
stacking thirty, forty, who knew how many
cans of Birdseye tunafish, cramming them into
our narrow cabinet. Why do we need so many?
Are you expecting an invading army? I teased.
She grumbled. Don’t be so fresh. You never
know. I didn’t really know about hunger,
refused to eat herring, steamed cabbage, and liver.
They reeked and tasted strictly from hunger,
a phrase translated from Yiddish to English. We
didn’t have a Parkhill home, the fanciest of the fancy
in Yonkers, but never went hungry, except one
day a year, fasting on Yom Kippur, the Day of
Atonement. Not even then was I truly famished,
not with a noodle kugel, lox and bagel brunch
to break the fast. Sure, my grandparents’ generation
knew real fear and hunger in Russia and Poland,
but Grandma, my Bubbie Berkowitz, would say,
In America, better we forget about the old country.
Eat! Eat, Bubbeleh. On you, it looks good!