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Olive and Lemon

  • Shelagh Hewitt Kareda

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Here we are on my birthday, here

at Olive and Lemon, my husband

my daughter, my friend, gathered

to celebrate my enduring

fifty-six years. Candles burn down.

Our table glows in ritual.

Tonight I have eaten four fat

sardines grilled, then risotto, black

with cuttlefish ink, so fitting

as where we sit all together

leaning slightly back, talking in

that after dinner way, presents

opened and admired, Espresso

Doubles (decaffenated for me)

almost drunk… here, where we sit,

in Olive and Lemon, which was

once-upon-a-time-long-ago, when

I was three, then four, perhaps five,

the Jewish Fish Store.

Every Friday while my father shopped next door

I watched The Big Carp who waited

for me in his oblong metal tank.

His mouth opened and closed,

his fins waved, keeping his balance

steady, almost still. His pale eye

stared at me from the side of his head.

I stared back. We were alone

together…wary, touched with fear.

I did not know that he would die

each week, sold, to be transformed into

a meal for Shabas, nor that he would

swim beside me, resurrected

as a guest at my birthday feast

tonight, at Olive and Lemon.

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