by Madlynn Haber (Northampton, MA)
When the Ladies of the Monday Night Club
met in our living room, I helped my grandmother
put chocolate candies out in crystal dishes.
I sat on the floor by the swinging door
watching the ladies who smelled like flowers.
They took their seats around the room
talking in loud accented voices.
Some were called by their last names,
no Miss or Mrs., they were just
Homnick, Goldman, and Levine.
Some called by their Yiddish names,
Manya and Malka, and some by their modern
American names like my grandmother, Ruth.
Their laughter and chatting was hushed
by a leader when the meeting’s rituals began.
The one I most remember was the collection
of money for Tzedakah, for charitable causes.
Each woman in turn rose, walked to a basket
making her donation, her addition to the kitty
in the name of an honor or blessing in her life.
A grandchild’s graduation. A daughter’s pregnancy.
A husband’s promotion. I listened to discover
if my latest report card would earn me a mention
when my grandmother took her turn.
After the sharing, there was a card game
and home-baked apple cake and coffee
The Monday Night Club Ladies, always on hand
for celebrations, came out in full force
for my grandmother’s seventieth birthday.
There were less at her eightieth and only a few
when she turned ninety. By then, the meetings
had been moved to Monday afternoons
and I had grown-up and moved away.
I hold cherished memories of sounds, smells,
and stories, I recall from my spot on the floor
when the Ladies of the Monday Night Club met.
I inherited my grandmother’s membership pin,
a fondness for women’s groups, her recipe
for apple cake, and a commitment to making
donations when good fortune comes my way.
Madlynn Haber lives with her dog, Ozzie, in a cohousing community in Northampton, Massachusetts. Her work has been published in the anthologyAdult Children (Wishing Up Press, 2021), Buddhist Poetry Review, Dissonance Magazine, K’in Literary Journal, Hevria, The Jewish Writing Project, Muddy River Poetry Review, Poetica Magazine and other journals. Visit her online at www.madlynnwrites.com