Wednesday, December 7, 2011



DECEMBER 7, 1941

       I was six, going on seven, when early one latesummer
       evening, autumn's chill insinuating itself,
       Grandma and I walked along Newark's Belmont Avenue,
       a large empty lot to our left.

       There on the horizon was a red moon-- the size of
       a Jersey tomato six inches from your nose--as big and
       gory a moon as I'd ever seen, and have since.

       "That means war. Red moon means war," Grandma said,
       tightening the kerchief 'round her yellowing white hair.
       She quickened her step, scuttering along in her
       blue wool sweater on bandaged, vein-bumpy legs,
       looking every inch the Bessarabian peasant she was.

       That winter, we were eating supper at Aunt Lucille's
       when in burst Uncle Sam from work, his plump face a
       circle of concern. "The Japs attacked Pearl Harbor!"

       Lucille took Sam's food off the stove. 
       I kept scooping at my chocolate pudding.
       Grandma, who was dipping a puff of seeded roll
       into her weak coffee, made a windsucking sound
       with her gums, and darted a look at me
       over her eyeglasses.

                                                     -- Kal Wagenheim


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