Nobody, but nobody, besides the four of us, eats
in the living room. The folded mahogany side table
opens wide for my grandma, Mom, Dad, and me.
No one else joins us on holidays when Dad’s face
is uncovered on the side with the radiation burn
circling his cheek-hole the size of a normal pencil.
The side that isn’t usual is simply not for discussion.
Natie is my father, and funny, and I wish I could tell
you the jokes but all I remember now is he loves me
to sit on his knee and play horsey. He often brings
home chocolate marshmallow twists from Tompkins’
candy store because they’re a favorite he can enjoy
still soft enough for him to chew, just not in public.
Grandma brings us pure milk chocolate menorahs
and dreidels for Chanukah. We three females cup
our hands over our eyes and sing the sweet blessing.
Dad ignites the shamus candle each Chanukah evening.
I light the first night’s, then the second, till eight.
We sing I have a little dreidel. Dad says my voice
is lovely, and I’m his sheina madeleh, beautiful girl.
Our latkes and applesauce we swallow together.
Lois Rosen leads Salem, Oregon’s Trillium Writers, the ICL Writing Group at Willamette University, and co-founded the Peregrine Poets. Her poetry collections are Pigeons (Traprock Books, 2004), Nice and Loud (Tebot Bach, 2015), and Diving and Rising (Finishing Line Press, 2021). Her awards include Crab Creek Review 2021 Poetry Contest.