Pamela Balluck

The Symbols of My Heritage

Our march across the desert from slavery into freedom is once again interminable. Gramma Singer has given everyone a part. Everyone. Haggadah cum script with major to minor players. Because we know from last time, and the time (and time) before that, Cousin Cleo and I have vodka rocks in our water glasses, and stationed on the floor between our chairs is a bottle of Cabernet we substitute during Manischewitz moments. Our stomachs growl. Our heads swim in low blood sugar and alcohols mixed.

Dad, who openly drinks Scotch at our table but isn’t yet drunk, says, “Please pass the symbols of my heritage,” and Gramma Singer tolerates it.

Cleo swallows her first bite of matzah, charoses, and maror sandwich chased with Cab: “God, the bitterness of life tastes great on the bread of affliction.”

It does.

Pamela Balluck

Pamela Balluck’s fiction has appeared in Western Humanities Review, Southeast Review, Quarter After Eight, [PANK], Night Train, Freight Stories, Ocean State Review, and in anthologies, most recently Curbside Splendor’s The Way We Sleep. New creative nonfiction can be found in the Southeast Review contest issue, 2014. Born in New York, raised in California and Montana, Balluck lives in Salt Lake City and teaches writing at the University of Utah. “The Symbols of My Heritage” first appeared in Barrow Street as a prose poem; as fiction, it is part of a collection-in-progress, and a third-person version is part of winning fiction forthcoming in the fall contest issue of Green Mountains Review.