Yiddishe “Whistler’s Mother”

Speak to me in Yiddish, Mama.  I remember how you drawled my name so that it sounded like Fi’she-le, Fi’she-le

When Chayale (a Yiddish friend) calls and she says it the same way, a chill and goose bumps cover my skin.

Now I see you very late at night.  You are sitting on a chair with your hands clasped like Whistler’s Mother.  Mama, speak to me in Yiddish. 

I miss you and our talks in Yiddish.  Now I think about nuances of grammar, transliteration, syntax, past participles, complemented verbs, and my speech is stilted.  With you it was cozy, free, and easy.

Tell me another story of what it was like in Tiktin before you came to America.  Tell me what it was like working in the sweatshops in the garment district.

What was it like meeting Papa and his “pork and beans family?” Tell me about the shadkhn (matchmaker), your wedding, and having three boys in a year and week.

Look at me—you would be so proud and happy.  Mama, oh Mama, won’t you speak to me in Yiddish?