"Ridiculous," I thought
to meditate on a zabeb
(as we were instructed to do)
nonetheless, I took one
from the cut glass bowl
put it in my mouth
tossed it from left cheek to right
over, under my tongue
focused on its sweetness, chewiness—
taste, texture, scent—
its history of rain, sun, and earth

despite the cramp in my
left foot, despite the maneuvers
of my tongue to dislodge a zabeb
trapped in an upper molar
I made every effort to meditate

but instead of a spiritual experience
I kept thinking of Aunt Gus (prettiest
of the aunts, mother said,
if only she would have had orthodontia)
and of her husband, Uncle Milton
(whom I once heard play the musical saw
in my grandmother’s living room)

every Saturday morning Aunt Gus would sit
with a cup of coffee at the white kitchen table
in her Brooklyn apartment
plucking zabebs out of the Kügelhopf

I don't know what she did with them
did she throw them out
or perhaps give them to her daughter
deaf since the age of six months?

I assume that once she’d accumulated
a small pile of the offending delicacies
my aunt proceeded to feast
on the zabeb-less Kügelhopf

I doubt that dwelling on this history
counts as a meditation
but the memory returns me to a saner time in my life
and a heightened appreciation of the zabeb.

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