Elegy to Aunt Jo
Charlie’s notice of your burial service caught me
off guard. But I remember that photo he included,
that one of you in a sleeveless brocade dress
in front of the mirror. The double image, perhaps
unintended, reminds me that you—like me—were a twin.
You told me once you could have gone to Brandeis,
but you didn’t want to leave your home in Newark
or your twin. You married my uncle in ’56, I don’t know
what you expected. By then he was part-owner
of a grocery store with his brothers. You began to wear
your hair in a bee-hive, all starched with hairspray
and you told me Grandpa spoke beautiful Jewish
and I never really heard him speak at all. He coughed
phlegm while running around in his union suit. You
had a large white house in Caldwell and a lap dog
you named Shoo-Shoo and you bought me a hamster
I named Valentine and was actually relieved
when my uncle ran over it with his car in the driveway.
You invited me for sleepovers and for trips to the lake
to visit your sister and brother. You were brilliant
and beautiful but listless and showed up at my sister’s
wedding in ’73 in a pink jumpsuit and flirted with the judge.
You moved to California after the divorce and I visited
you in Marina del Rey. We held your Norwegian
granddaughter and posed for photos in the living room
with Amy’s Christmas tree for backdrop. You stayed
in touch with my mother and I think she liked you
despite your craziness. You were interesting at least.
Barbara Krasner holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches creative writing in New Jersey. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, Nimrod, Paterson Literary Review, Blue Lyra Review, Peregrine, and other journals.