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
Previous NPM celebrations from Gyroscope Review
Let the Poet Speak! 2022
Poet of the Day 2020
Poets Read 2019
Book Links Party 2017