- The Butcher's Wife
The year was round with zeros, 1900, and they lived in a Lithuanian shtetl where her garden smelled like roses and mint and she collected eggs each day from fifteen chickens to sell at the market stand.
Her husband was a butcher,a moyl really, but who could make a living doing circumcisions? He had a shop and knives, lots of knives.
A peddler came to the farm one dayand showed her how to open her mouth and kiss. When he left, she ran her tongue along the surface of her teeth and smiled. [End Page 58]
It took three days for her husbandto spill her confession. Why else would a peddler spend a sunny afternoon at one farm? So she fasted, a full week, as he ordered, and scrubbed her mouth with soap.
She had no words that week.Nothing passed between her lips. But when she stepped into her garden her whole mouth blossomed like roses, like the taste of mint.
Shelley Savren's book, The Common Fire (Red Hen Press, 2004), focuses on growing up Jewish. She co-founded The Feminist Poetry and Graphics Center in the '70s and was the managing editor of the radical feminist journal, The Longest Revolution. Ms. Savren's awards include a nomination for a Pushcart Prize, nine California Arts Council Artist in Residence grants and four artist fellowships from the City of Ventura. She holds an M.F.A. from Antioch University L.A. and lives in Ventura, California, where she teaches writing full-time at Oxnard College.