Never Family by Lee Landau

photo of sugar cookie

“Cookie” (image via Flickr user Julien Gong Min)

I swear I never wrote about you,

days spent cleaning, always

ironing the sheets and underwear,


hours cooking and baking for

the freezer, never family.


Karen, sly bandito, searched

your purse, the cabinets and kitchen

drawers. You kept that freezer


locked daring anyone

to steal your hard work…always,

always for people outside family.


Remember the rabbi’s wife, glutton

for your butter cookies, her mouth,

an automatic blender. ‘Company first,’ you said.


At Sabbath meals, we ate chicken wings,

never breast or drumsticks

reserved for others, why not family?


Karen, persistent like the bathroom leaky faucet,

found the key to pans of lasagna, rugelach

and almond cookies.


You, grocery shopping after school,

how could you know? Too late,

yes, too late to stop your daughter’s feast.

This poet writes with raw honesty about her personal landscape, interaction with family events, those dysfunctional backstories. She shelters emotional trauma from the snowy winters of Minnesota that spark her imagination. She writes about obsessions, both large and small that tumble through her poems and life. She also writes to an internal audience of the departed and the dead or dying highlighting a litany of losses.