Remembering the Sabbath Day

Every Saturday, I was exiled to the old country,
serving time amidst plastic-covered furniture,
buttocks sticking and pulling free,
glooming in my grandparents’ grey palette.
My father’s mother wore funereal black,
spoke Yiddish, a language of secrets,
words like schwartze and goyim.
Their kosher baloney was seasoned with ketchup,
cream of wheat bloodied by maraschino cherries.
Entertainment was a jar of marbles,
rolled one after another down a featureless hall.
Time stretched like taffy, drooped like pulled gum.
I wore the holocaust in my bones, feared Nazis lurking.
In grandma’s back room was her tailor shop,
chairs heaped with dresses, bagged and pin-stuck.
How I watched the clock, yearning for mother’s finger on the doorbell.
The shtetls of Europe threatened to hold me fast.