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Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

The Door Opens

I startle 

to see my husband 

in the doorway, 

his spine curving like a birch 

in a forest leaning toward the light 

or arched like the pillar of a harp. 

These days, I lean on him lightly. 

Age bends us to its will. 

I well up with loving him. 

His arms are filled

with birdsong. 

Chop Suey

Hannah Cohen and I used to sneak 

up the stairway above Central Deli to The Palace,

one of the first Chinese restaurants in Far 

Rockaway, and order two from Column A, two from B. 


We ate the non-kosher food so fast we burnt 

our tongue on wonton noodles dipped in fiery 

mustard and scarfed down egg rolls while the outer wraps

still sizzled, then scalded our lips with boiling tea.


Our fingers and chins were shiny with spare rib 

grease. Shrimp with tiny eyes eyed us, but we shut our eyes 

and bit into their pink 

flesh. We forced ourselves to leave leftovers.

The waiter would wrap them in foil

shaped like swans that we never dared 

bring into our kosher homes, 

and we had to ditch the mini 

paper umbrellas that embellished each dish.


An hour later, our bellies 

were still full. 

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