No one knows how Jennie and Nathan
managed to establish a life together
after she had become
the sorrowful teenage kallah
in an arranged marriage to an older man
who lived in another shtetl raising pigeons.
Nathan’s parents had sent him to America,
but first, he took a train to Wales
to live with relatives near Cardiff
while he learned a trade
in clothing manufacturing.
Perhaps the two traded love letters
across the ocean, making promises,
waiting until the time was right.
Did her husband die or did she divorce him?
Did she make the trip with her sister?
What we do know is Jennie arrived
by ship in New York City,
caught a train to Philadelphia
with her two-year old son
who would one day earn a scholarship
to the University of Pennsylvania
and become a doctor.
For me, Jennie and Nathan’s story
began in 1888, when they married
and together added six more children
to the family—
all with blue eyes and dark brown hair.
Pauline, their first-born daughter
was my grandmother.
by Lois Perch Villemaire
Lois Perch Villemaire writes poetry, flash memoir and fiction. Her work has appeared in such places as Blue Mountain Review, Ekphrastic Review, One Art: A Journal of Poetry, Pen In Hand and Topical Poetry. Anthologies, including I Am My Father’s Daughter and Truth Serum Press - Lifespan Series have published her memoir and poetry. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Lois lives in Annapolis, MD, where she enjoys yoga, researching family connections, fun photography, and doting over her African violets.