Edward Nudelman's poetry collections include Out of Time, Running (Harbor
Mountain Press, 2014), What Looks Like an Elephant (Lummox Press, 2011), and
Night Fires (Pudding House Press,
2009). He has received numerous awards and recognition for his poetry. His
poems have appeared in dozens of journals, including:
Rattle, Cortland Review, Valparaiso Review, Chiron Review, Evergreen Review, Poets and Artists, Ampersand,
Syntax, The Atlanta Review, Mipoesias, Plainsongs, Floating Bridge Press
The Penwood Review. Nudelman founded and operates a notable rare
bookshop in Seattle (est. 1980) and has recently retired from a scientific
career in cancer biology where his research was published in over 60 papers
in top-tier scientific journals.
She spoke of the holocaust
in the same way she spoke of making eggs.
Pulling back the veil only once for me
as I waited on a wooden chair in the corner
of her kitchen, the smell of rich butter
wafting my way, thickly intoxicating.
The eggs were moist and barely cooked.
Henry mumbled Hebrew idioms
intermittently as she explained it to me.
When she finally sat down, I learned how many had died.
And how they died.
When grandma referred to her ancestors
slaughtered in Eastern Europe’s pogroms,
her sugaring of zuchter increased,
til it flavored nearly every other word.
She emigrated from Poland before the first
World War—the eldest of her family,
beginning work at nineteen across
from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.
When she spoke of the Holocaust,
it was zuchter taken, and zuchter lost,
all of which I could sympathize with,
so much lost sugar—but zuchter
butchered and slaughtered, left me
bewildered, hungry for knowledge.
She was sweet then, and docile through
ninety-two; till one day a space heater
ignited her bathrobe. I got the call
at work, just blocks from the hospital,
but when I got there, she was nearly gone.
I held her hand until she passed away,
remembering how I mistook all her
zuchters for sugar—but it turns out,
"zuchter, for Grandma, was a placeholder,
a split-second to compose and gather
strength, of which I’m presently in need.