The Brown Derby, 1979

Bonnie Lightstone

The day of my birth,
after an unsuccessful inducement,
my dad took my mom to the Brown Derby
to tempt me out
with chicken shmaltz and liver.
They still remember the waitress:
fifty-ish, plump, European,
with a bottle-yellow chignon,
an apron
and a smile.

Once a month on a Sunday
we returned to the Brown Derby,
three children now.
The same waitress
served us little rolls of challah and rye,
Hungarian eggplant.

My mom would pour us little cups of coffee
in her plastic cream containers
and my dad would tell his regular joke
over the cherry pie,
while one of us fell asleep
on the booth of cracked leather.

The street we first lived on,
the swings and tunnels of the park,
my parents’ kiss at the corner of their newlywed flat--

gone now,
along with the gates and palms of Jerusalem
etched on the walls of the deli.

The fish-eyes and layer cakes
at the take-out counter
are now
a dollar-store

and my parents
younger than I,
pink and orange
in the waxy, squared off photographs.

Bonnie Lightstone is a graduate of the Shaindy Rudoff M.A. program in Creative Writing at
Bar-Ilan University. She made aliyah in 2008 and lived in Jerusalem for three wonderful years. Bonnie has taught English in Canada and Israel. She is currently living in Toronto, Canada. This is the first publication of her work.


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