about the author

Rochelle Jewel Shapiro’s novel, Miriam the Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004), was nominated for the Harold U. Ribelow Award and is currently selling in Holland, Belgium, and England, and the paperback is now available in the United States. She’s published essays in NYT (Lives) and Newsweek—My Turn. She’s been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. She teaches writing at UCLA Extension.

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The Kitchen Table

Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

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The enamel was cold to the elbows
that weren’t supposed to be on it in the first place.
It was mostly white, that table, but speckled
robin’s egg blue and flat like the world was to you
back then, no matter that your teacher spun her globe
to show the round earth’s rotation. You knew that meteors
could never reach you with the velocity
that your big cousin claimed. “You’ll be splat,” he’d said,
smacking his fist into his palm. You believed that comets
would break up into motes in the stratosphere and drop
with no more threat than graham cracker crumbs
onto linoleum. Beneath the table, there was perpetual motion—
three pairs of Mary-Jane-ed feet swinging, except when
you were forced to eat canned peaches with sour cream.
Some nights your parents’ war was as silent as the knives
in the table’s drawer. You were part of something
back then: an eating team, a constellation
in which you were a minor blinking star

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