I’m putting off the shingles vaccine because it hurts your arm and requires a series of two. I’m cutting out dairy, except for cottage cheese and yogurt and melted Brie, because I need the calcium and the smooth mouth feel. I check for lumps in the shower. Most days I walk in the park.  I adjust the sum of weekly glasses of wine to a single digit so that my answer to my internist doesn’t have to be a fudge which is the tasty word for a lie. Calm down, I tell myself. Don’t be afraid of better health, staying upright, of making dinner without my balm, my loyal company, in a long-stemmed glass. You can never drink too little. Live on!

I fix my mother’s Polish food for dinner, fry garlicky kielbasa in a pan to slide between brown German pumpernickel bread that only asks for butter and toasted warmth. I sauté cabbage with caraway seeds. Scrub and roast beets. Our mother spoke some Polish, which sounds like Russian with the soft drag of zees but how to pronounce clusters of consonants? German cognates are reassuringly familiar: kindergarten. Doppelganger. Pumper means gas, and nickel, the ruler, Nicholas. A baker’s joke. When the two youngest sisters were in grammar school, my father would put them on the bus from Hattiesburg so they could spend the weekend with me. I’d make kielbasa sandwiches, and pan fry pierogis stuffed with potato and onion, with tumblers of cold Welch’s grape juice to wash it all down. My first husband would make himself scarce and we were okay with the girl time he would’ve crashed. The root for sister comes from the Dutch zuster and the German schwester, the Latin soror, silbiliant, silky siblings, the letter S hookable at the bottom and the top.

“The Bohemian” http://ninatempleart.com/

Ink on cold pressed watercolor paper

20″ x 30″