A Family Tradition

It used to be a family tradition. On
Sunday afternoons each summer
Mom and Dad would drive into
the country searching for antique
stores along the Hudson River
north of the city, my brother and me
complaining in the back seat
about the long intervals
between rest stops.

They sat side-by-side—Dad steering, 
Mom in the passenger seat—each
speaking Yiddish so my brother
and I wouldn’t know what
they were saying or where
we were going next.

I can still hear them laughing
at the way the other pronounced
a word (or mispronounced it), saying
it was the way they had learned it.
Galitzianer, Dad would say,
and Mom would counter with
Litvak, and they’d laugh

while in the backseat
our ears ached to
know what they were saying
catching only a few phrases
whose meaning
remained a mystery.