My Uncle Eddie was my favorite uncle. He took me to every carnival, fair and circus in town. He was Irish, my only non-Jewish relative and he was my hero. Aside from the ethnic confusion he created, he was the kind of mentor, supporter and playful companion that I wish for every child.
I Like Rice
Marlene Resnick c 2004
When I was just a little kid
I loved rice so much
It was all I’d ever eat
For lunch and snack and such.
I was a picky eater
I didn’t like too many things
So rice was what I had each day
And on occasion, chicken wings.
I learned to cook my own rice.
I cooked it without fault.
And served it with a lot of milk,
Some butter and a little salt.
I had a favorite uncle.
He wasn’t always very nice.
He told me my great-grandfather
Was Chinese: That’s why I loved rice.
Of course I just believed him
It made sense that I could see.
I liked that there was a reason
That rice was important to me.
It wasn’t until one bright, fine day
On my way to school
That my friend, the policeman on the corner
Said, “Is that a book of rules?”
“I have to go to Hebrew School
When the regular school day is done.
This is my book for Hebrew School
And believe me, it isn’t fun.”
“Hebrew School” he said to me
“A little Irish girl like you?”
I said. “What made you think that
that was what was true?”
“You look like so many little girls
from Ireland, where I’m from.”
“Oh no,” I said, “That’s not the case, at all.
That’s not where I am from.”
“I’m not at all Irish,
And I’ll tell you, if you please,
That I am seven eighths Jewish
And just one-eighth Chinese.”
The policeman saw my mother
That very afternoon.
He told her she should talk to me
Sometime very soon.
My mom talked to my uncle.
She had quite a lot to say.
“Don’t tell her things that are not true.
It is not ok.”
“She believes all the things you tell her.
She believes your every word.
Now she’s in her room and crying
This truly is absurd.”
“I’m very disappointed
That things are so chaotic.
She’s very disappointed
Because she really wants
To be just a little bit exotic.”
“What’s wrong?” my mom asked me.
“Tell me, can you please?”
“Oh mom,” I said, “I want to be
A little bit Chinese.”
“But you’re the very same person
Not any different at all.
And it is just what you believed
That made your feelings fall.”
Mom continued whispering
Softly in my ear,
“Embrace your real heritage
Because it’s very dear”.
“You can ask a lot of questions
Of any one at all,
But be sure that they aren’t telling you
A tale that’s very tall.”
“I’m sorry you’re disappointed.
I’m sorry you feel you lack.
But when your Uncle tells you things
You’d better check the facts.”