MY BROTHER'S HEAD
Dolorous days of the Great Depression,
driving my Pontiac pedal car up and
down well worn wooden floors
of grandma's dry-goods store.
She buried two husbands, lived
in the back of the store with
the aroma of garlic schnitzel,
roasting red peppers and eggplant
always on the stove.
She shuffled about leaving a flatulent trail of softly
exploding firecrackers in her wake.
Fluent in Romanian, Polish, Ukrainian
and German, she haggled with customers,
squeezing every penny out of
each unfurled bolt of material.
On Sundays in father's model A,
We drove to Delancey street,
watched her do battle with wholesalers
who followed her out on the street
to clinch a deal over the price of a
dozen box of socks or underwear.
After loading up on licorice ropes,
papered dots and chocolate covered
halvah at the push-cart candy peddler,
a root-beer and hotdog for a nickel, a weekly treat.
On rainy days we played in the basement
filled with crates and old counters.
When my brother, bearded, wearing a
homemade Lincoln stovepipe, delivered
the Gettysburg address, a Hoosier cabinet
tipped over crashing into his head.
As blood gushed forth I raced up the
stairs screaming, "My brother chopped his head off."
The injury was stitched up and forgotten
until seventy years later,when his head
was once again opened up to remove a brain tumor
the size of a lemon, the surgeon explained.
Milton P. Ehrlich