Borkis – Evie Groch

My mameh called them borkis,

bought them by the pound at Von’s,

the supermarket in the ghetto,

toted them home in her two-wheeled

folding shopping cart.

The deeper the red,

the darker the burgundy,

the richer the taste,

or so she would have me believe.

 

As she ribboned off their skins,

she inhaled their scent,

prided herself in their smooth nakedness,

prepared them for their bath.

 

Dry the borkis, mash them, add the juice,

season them, serve them cold 

with a side of mashed potatoes. 

Other cooks in the ghetto did the same,

a similar aroma wafting from house to house

marking them as ‘others.’

 

Forced to sip this ‘specialty’ she prepared for him,

I struggled to swallow, watching my dad

enjoy his borscht as I could only picture

peasants ‘round the hearth. A shameful taste,

a stigma tattooed on my tongue, indelible,

bloody red with shame.

 

I still avoid them today 

at Raley’s produce section,

no longer in the ghetto,

but willing to skip a beet.

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Evie Groch, Ed.D. is a Field Supervisor/Mentor for new administrators in Graduate Schools of Education. Her opinion pieces, humor, poems, short stories, recipes, word challenges, and other articles have been widely published in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Contra Costa Times, The Journal, and Games Magazine. Many of her poems are in published anthologies. Her short stories, poems, and memoir pieces have won her recognition and awards. Her travelogues have been published online with Grand Circle Travel. The themes of travel, language, and immigration are special for her.