This is My Secret

They all needed me
Hinda Minka, Chana, Mendel, Dovid, Sholom, Fraida, and even baby Noach to

Do laundry
Help with homework
Make dinner
Give baths
Sing them to sleep

As I went through the motions,

sorting the whites
finishing their homework

I dreamed about words
black and white words
whisking me away to a place
where others dreamed
as I dreamed.

As I nodded and smiled,

“Your mother saved me”
“You are so lucky to be her daughter”

my mind wandered to the Magic Treehouse book
hidden under Chana’s pillow that I speed read in the dark,
no flashlight, under a sheet (Mendel had my blanket).

As I opened the cabinet, bare except

One box of macaroni
Two cans of tuna

and contemplated dinner for ten
I wondered if a magical place existed, where oldest girls used

than their hands to knead dough
their feet to walk their siblings to school
their mouths to say “yes.”

Kai Zwiebel

Listen to Kai reading ’This is My Secret’ (1:10).


Kai Zwiebel is an emerging writer and student studying for her BA in Women and Gender studies. Kai spent her childhood years in Brooklyn and currently lives in Ft. Lauderdale, FL with her wonderful wife and daughter.

© text and audio 2020