An aunt I’ve never seen in the flesh
lurks in my grandmother’s kitchen
perhaps communing with the kosher sausages.
She is avoiding me.
I had always suspected her of not existing
despite glimpsing photographs
of her with my vanished rabbi uncle,
whose existence I also had to take on trust.
The sight of her half-remembered face
repeated like a smudged photocopy
in inquisitive men who said they were her sons
eventually proved her to be real,
but that was long ago and tonight I am
being moved like a chess piece
from room to room in an effort to preserve
the kosher space around my invisible aunt.
My grandmother smiles mournfully,
divides herself between the ghettoes
my unseen aunt creates.
“She is very orthodox,” my grandmother explains.
I smile politely and wonder if,
thanks to this careful separation,
my invisible aunt envisages me
as half-Jew meat or watered milk
or just as unclean animal, as pig.
I am tempted to burst through the curtains
and confront her – but she’s far from being a vicar
and the noises off in this sorry farce
are those of bigotry run riot,
of prayer and weakness,
and of the foundations of her god’s house
shifting in the sand she built them on.
Adam Horovitz’s debut collection Turning was published by Headland Pres in 2011.