My Aunt in America – Jesse Weiner

In 1946, my aunt from europe,
who was living in treblinka
when it was liberated by russian troops,
came to america, married a
bakery and cooked stuffed cabbage soup
with cheap fatty flanken which left
huge bubbles of strong flavored fat
floating, separating, joining.

when my aunt from europe got rich,
she used leaner meat,
ground sirloin to stuff the cabbage,
less rice and the soup wasn’t as good as before,
sliced white bread rather than corn rye,
frozen dinners instead of pierogen.
when she fried she used fine olive oil
and mayonnaise in the chopped liver
instead of schmaltz,
and she was glad to forget the taste
of europe, the smoke of kishinev in 1903,
the smells of kielce in 1946 and
the ovens, always the ovens.

my aunt from europe learned to speak
without an accent, to dress like manhattan
instead of brooklyn, to shed each skin
after each finished season.
she told me- be an american, be
a human being instead of a jew.

“My Aunt in America” first appeared in The Black Bear Review.

Posted in Blog.


  1. This is a powerful poem.

    So many stark images of food and a tragic history are intricately woven. The aunt’s slow assimilation into American life and her poignant/sad advice to her nephew about surviving, blending in, make us remember, once again, all that was lost.

  2. Jesse Weiner is writing a series of “aunt” poems. If he ever completes them, I hope he will let 10×3 plus or Beginner’s Mind publish them.

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