Origin Stories – Anita Pulier

Origin Stories
    Only Dinner
    by Anita S. Pulier

    Grandma Rose’s cooking pot is too large
    to have been carried in steerage from Minsk
    and a few years after she arrived it was dented when
    it fell off a fire escape on the Lower East Side,

    still I have kept it for years
    as the only heirloom from Rose.
    I see it perched on the rusted tenement fire escape
    cooling soup with boiled scraps of meat

    waiting to feed her hungry family,
    my mother Ida, the only girl child 
    helping in the kitchen, her brothers, much older,
    out on the street, her father a day laborer, not yet home.

    And Rose exhausted, homesick,
    grieving the child lost in the old country,
    lifts the peeling window sash to reach the fire escape
    and carry the pot inside but discovers

    it has fallen to the street below,
    soup splattered everywhere.
    She lumbers several flights down the steep airless stairs
    to reclaim her empty pot and in Yiddish mutters to herself:

    it’s only dinner
    we will survive.

Origin Stories – Only Dinner

My grandmother Rose died when I was about 5. I adored her. It wasn’t the style then to discuss with children what it meant to lose someone you love and what it meant to grieve. Little was said to me about her death. I filled in the blanks.

Years later when I was married and had kids of my own my mom asked me if I could use a large pot she didn’t need any more even though it has some damage. “It was Grandma’s,” she said. “The dent happened when it fell off a Brooklyn fire escape.”

From that brief interchange and many years of living with this heirloom the poem “Only Dinner” happened. Is it about love, courage or survival? Maybe all of these.

And oh yes, I’m in my 70s and I still use the pot.


Anita S. Pulier is a retired attorney who traded legal writing for poetry.

She and her husband Myron live a bi-costal life between NYC and Los Angeles, where their two sons and 5 grandkids are based. Anita and Myron are daily hikers in the NYC parks and the Santa Monica Mountains. Anita has been very involved in the SoCal poetry community and recently even Myron (a retired psychiatrist) has been writing poetry!

Anita’s chapbooks Perfect Diet, The Lovely Mundane and Sounds of Morning and her books The Butchers Diamond and Toast were published by Finishing Line Press. Anita’s latest book Paradise Reexamined was published by Kelsay books. Anita’s poems have appeared in many journals and her work is included in six anthologies. Anita has been a featured poet on The Writer’s Almanac and Cultural Daily.

Her website is; http://psymeet.com/anitaspulier/

Gyroscope Review Spring 2023 Issue Available now!

Previous Origin Stories

April 1 – Wanda Praisner

April 2 – Howard Lieberman

April 3 – L. Shapley Bassen

April 4 – Sharon Scholl

April 5 – Stellasue Lee

April 6 – Jeanne DeLarm

April 7 – Virginia Smith

April 8 – Patricia Ware

April 9 – Mary Makofske

April 10 – Ann Wallace

April 11 – Jessica Purdy

April 12 – Lakshman Bulusu

April 13 – Kim Malinowski

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Let the Poet Speak! 2022

Promopalooza 2021

Poet of the Day 2020

Poets Read 2019

National Poetry Month Interview Series 2018

Book Links Party 2017

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Origin Stories