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“Self Portrait” — a Portrait of Hope

Posted by Roberta Levine on November 27, 2015

As we retreat into the warmth of family and holiday tradition, we’d like to share a poem that envisions the shared values of our community.

Self Portrait
The Day After
The Paris Massacre

Today I identify
with my All-Clad colander
on the granite counter
between my kitchen
and the table where sits
my racially, all-clad
American family.

I pour a boiling pot of noodles
through the colander into the sink.
The water runs off
but the noodles stay,
ready for however I choose to serve them.

The noodles I prefer today
are the multi-colored kind
we find on the shelves at Giant Eagle.
To me they represent multi-mommies —
Asian, African, Israeli, European, Latina.

Mommies in head scarves,
mommies in hijab,
plain white mommies,
each with a matching baby,
on their way to play
together in the Family Lounge
at my center,
my Jewish center,
my Jewish Community Center.

I pour all the noodles into the colander.
Water runs off and returns to rain.
I prepare the dish with butter,
sour cream and Israeli sheep-milk feta.

Today, after the Paris Massacre,
I hope that the multi-mommies
are as conscious as I am
that we have to stay together

while waste waters
of the conflict kitchens
of the world
run down
the drain.
— Jamie Benjamin

Jamie Benjamin, a retired addictions counselor, lives in Squirrel Hill. She is a member of the Informal Madwomen poetry workshop.

“Self Portrait” was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Saturday, November 21, 2015. Featured image, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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