Grandma Esther
kept a kosher kitchen
black and white marbled formica table
perched on cheap golden legs
creaked under the weight
of the chopping of onions
to be caramelized and smothered
over pot roast seared
in bright red and yellow flowered Corningware.

Pot roast bought at Mr. Lew's
the Kosher Deli that wasn't
really kosher, but grandpa said
as good as it gets
in this gentile town.
Set out in the dining room
upon china embossed with red ladies in waiting
in horse drawn carriages
alongside soft white linen napkins.

Candles lit for shabbat
challah hiding under white cloth
and Grandpa Jack
with slick backed black hair
in starched white undershirt
stretched over a pot belly
bent his gout-nubbed elbows
and brandished the serrated knife
to slice into the sweet bread's yellow center.

I sat patiently legs dangling
waiting in the warmth of grandparent love
as my little sister asked for a glass of milk
and grandma said "Yes dahling,
but drink it in the kitchen"
at the formica table
where grandma sat in her faded red and white apron
peeling shrimp that she dipped
in cocktail sauce for her appetizer.

Thirty years later
in my own kosher kitchen
where I absentmindedly mix
milchig and fleichig
pots and silverware
earnest attempt to pass on
to my own children
culture of rules and diet
history elapsed and lives reworked
grandmas and grandpas

My husband clamors
that I can't keep it straight
I'm contaminating the pans
Then I tell him about grandma's shrimp
and the love in our kosher kitchen
that I am passing on.