Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

What They Told Me

by Linda Umans


A child’s memory after all. Limited view as “grandchild”
which really did not last long enough.

I knew him into my twenties. She died in the melancholy
September before I was eight.

They came from Hungary separately as children. Came together
in New York, Fanny and Sandor.

There was a tattered old portrait one aunt promised to restore
and never did. They looked like brother and sister, those long
fine noses, thick straight hair.

Personalities seemed not that far apart.

I never got much history. The incurious adults were no help.
I only knew Budapest (him) and the countryside (her).

In my memory they never conversed, relaxed together. Love
showed differently.

Life about work which seemed to be child-rearing
and survival. And solidarity. Workers’ rights. A living wage.
Big concerns.

I loved them in the kitchen, those noses at right angles; he,
arranging twists of dough for baking, she, basting the roasting duck.
Two sturdy frames in odd concert in that kitchen.

I did well coming somewhere from this.