Miriam’s Pudding
by Rebecca Fremo

Thick skin sealed away the sweetness.
My spoon had to make an effort
so I could eat, mamashayna, eat.
Rubber bands and wax paper choked
tiny crocks lining her New Jersey refrigerator,
guarding them from prying little fingers.

When I make pudding now at home,
it seems to lack that Polish immigrant fortitude.
Mine just rolls over in mushy acquiescence,
accepting any spoon, penetrable.
But Miriam’s pudding was cooked,
not whipped up in an instant frenzy.

Even when she faced unspeakable hunger,
she knew desire must be postponed.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My grandmother, Miriam, could jump rope until she was well into her sixties, and she experimented regularly with various shades of red hair dye. She was a Polish immigrant who literally slept in a bureau drawer as a small child. She used to perform in her Jewish women’s organization musicals, singing goofy parodies of old chestnuts like “Roll Out the Barrel” peppered now with Yiddish phrases. And she had a complicated relationship with food, as did many Eastern European immigrants who found themselves suddenly in the land of plenty after having to fight for every scrap as children back in the old country. I suppose that because I, too, have a complicated relationship with food, when I think of her, I think of what we ate together.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Fremo’s poems and essays appear in journals including Water~Stone Review, Tidal Basin Review, Poetica, Lake Region Review, Paper Darts, Naugatuck River Review, Full Grown People, and Compose. Her chapbook, Chasing Northern Lights, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2012. A Richmond, Virginia native, she now braves Minnesota winters with her husband and three sons.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a photo of me with Miriam, taken during 2009 in Richmond, Virginia.