draw large black dots in the shapes of
on the stimulation cards in the hospital
These black-against-white symbols
catch their attention,
the head nurse informs us.
We place the black dotted cards inside
and their newborn eyes catch and hold
those large black dots, just as she said
The sight of them stirs a far-off memory
Was it my own mothers eyes? So dark were
those first black dots into which I
eyes which were weeping often, even then,
my aunt told me, weeping they were,
over some unnamed fear she had for me.
Did those fears transfer from her eyes to
Did those black dots of fear imprint my
Or is it genes, which curse my peace,
inherited imbalances which
cause my own black fears today?
Freda Zehr, Wilmingtonm
Delaware, is a free lance writer and
member of Frazer Mennonite church in
Malvern along with her husband, Vernon
Zehr, a retired minister. She retired
from twenty years as a medical secretary
and has been active in volunteer work,
prison mentoring, and racial diversity
scrubbed my kitchen floor today,
not one of those "a lick and a
a real down on my hands and knees job.
"To get all the corners clean,
you must get down on your knees,"
Mama always said.
Her house always had
just-scrubbed look on Saturday night.
The old blue linoleums worn-through
shone dark and glossy with wax.
The oily smell of furniture polish
blended with all the odors of
next to godliness,"
I often heard her say on Saturday
Thoughts of God came easy on
so close to Sunday morning
and thoughts of food.
The two cackling
chickens, duly chased and caught,
their heads severed by her own hand.
I could not watch.
Their feathers singed now by the lit
her hands deftly moved their plump bodies
through the flaming newspapers.
Their bodies scraped
and cut up,
they rested now in the ice box,
waiting to be fried tomorrow.
The freshly baked pies waited too,
and the chocolate cake on the pantry
Was an abundance of food also next to
It felt that way on Saturday night.
Papa loved company for
Faraway relatives would be invited:
"Come up for Sunday dinner, Alma is
a wonderful cook"
(as indeed she was).
But sometimes she dreaded it.
She told me once, one
August Saturday afternoon
(as we again prepared for
Sunday dinner on my birthday),
how he had invited his cousins from
just two weeks before my birth.
Fifteen years later, distress still
at the memory of that day.
"I didnt feel good that
summer, it was so hot.
And youyou were such a large
I thought I could not get dinner for all
The women folk cousins
were sorry for her,
she said, when they saw her body, large
"We did not know," they said,
"Michael should have told us."
She seemed to find comfort in their
She smiles now, remembering.
"But I was always glad I did
Papa so loves company"
nightSunday mornings often
followed by Sunday afternoon headaches.
The dark green blinds pulled against
the afternoon sunit hurt her eyes.
I slipped upstairs, to
from the company where only the murmur of
the voices below interrupted the silence
in her room.
She lay on the bed, her forehead
covered with a wet wash cloth,
her long thick black hair
(released from the pins that bound it)
billowed like a dark storm cloud
across the pillow.
Pain etched furrows in her
porcelain white skin.
I rubbed her temples,
the way she always liked.
"Is the pain
better yet, Mama"?
A tear slid from the corner of her eye
to the pillow beneath.
"Yes, it helps a little." She
patted my hand now;
"You have a good way with your
for such a little girl."
Saturday nights, Sunday
Soon it will be Monday,