Mass, Rochelle

Canada, (b. 1943)

At the Dinner Party

The hostess spoke about sending Fed Ex packages with gas masks to her daughters in New York. Also sent them to my friends there, she added. Her anxiety ricocheted off the goblets, deepened the Merlot glow. As she seated us, she inquired: Who doesn’t eat pork? I raised my hand meekly. My plate was immediately swept clear of strips curled neat as fresh snails to the right of the open fig. I didn’t know you kept kosher, said the hostess warmly.

I used to wear it as a shield, then it didn’t let go of me, still hasn’t in one way or another, I admitted. She nodded, the others too even the German Press Rep who declared it had been some time since he’d dined with someone who ‘minded’ kosher rules. That’s who I used to be, I told him shyly, I don’t keep kosher now. But eating pork is something I just can’t do. The host smiled at me from the head of the table, announced: you can have anything you like now. Much less than I’d ever taken for myself – but I couldn’t admit that openly.

By that time it was dessert and the hostess cut into a massive cake. The scent of chocolate and cream somewhat absorbed the memory of the pork. Conversation turned back to the war and the hostess’ advice to her daughters to get Cipro tablets and store water. I got lost in the details as though I was dragging a net of air, as though I’d drunk too much, yet reached for wine again when the woman with heavy rings to my right smacked the rim of my glass with the water jug, cracked it neatly, didn’t spill a drop.

© Rochelle Mass. Where’s my Home. Portsmouth, RI: Premier Poets Chapbook Series.

About the Poet:

Rochelle Mass (b. 1943), is a Canadian poet, short stort writer, translator and editor. Though Canadian born, Mass, her husband and two young daughters, moved to Israel in l973. There they lived on a kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley for almost 25 years. They now lives in a settlement crawling up the Gilboa Mountain, overlooking that valley.

Mass has two poetry collections, Aftertaste, published with Ride the Wind Press, Canada, as well as a smaller chapbook called, Where’s my Home published by the Premier Poets Series in Rhode Island. A short story of hers was recently nominated for the 2002 Pushcart Prize by The Paumanok Review, short-listed for a Radio Play by the BBC, and she has had many other prizes and publications. [DES-06/14]

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