Every household has at least one bag of bones they try to hide under a pile of winter clothes. On the other hand, my family is so pleased with our fleshless corpse that we proudly display the skull, femur, and scapula for all to see.

We are originally from Silesia, a patch of land swapped so many times between Poland and Germany that it was often impossible to discern who was a friend and who was a foe. During WWII, my maternal grandmother was shipped to Nazi Germany to work in the fields, whereas my dad’s father was a Wehrmacht soldier and got a medal for bravery. Most likely for shooting at his future in-laws. After the war, both families got along nicely, celebrating birthdays and marriages when the carcass was dusted off and shown for all to see.

The skeleton’s ancestry can be traced back to my grandfather’s uncle, Ludvik, who immigrated to New York and married an Italian called Giovanna. He occasionally sent gifts with various delicacies from Economy Candy and other upscale department stores, but all communication ceased when WWII broke out. Contact was not reestablished until the conflict was over. And while it was nice to hear from Uncle Ludvik, it was the box containing spam, bitter chocolate, and powdered milk that caused whoops of delight.

A few months later, another parcel arrived, this time carrying a metal box with an image of the Statue of Liberty on the lid and a note written in Italian and signed by Ludvik’s wife. The box contained what seemed to be an instant soup mix similar to the one my grandma purchased on the black market. Granddad dipped his forefinger in it to taste it. However, the test proved inconclusive, so he decided it was most likely a supplement to prevent rickets and scurvy prevalent at the time. Throughout that cold December, including Christmas dinner consisting of fried spam, carrots, and cabbage with mushrooms, Granny put a spoonful of the stuff into everyone’s plates, saying a few words of thanks to Uncle Ludvik for his kindness, followed by a prayer at Midnight Mass.

Fast forward to the third parcel and yet another note, this time in Polish and also signed by Giovanna. Sadly, Ludvik had passed away, but she would keep the family stocked with food in his honor. His physical remains had been cremated at Crestwood Funeral Home, and the ashes were sent in… a box with a picture of the Statue of Liberty. She apologized for the previous Italian note, but no one could translate it. Fortunately, a Polish butcher famous for his kabanosy sausage was kind enough to write this time. Giovanna hoped Ludvik’s ashes were at peace in his final resting place.

For a week, the clan puked, leaving Uncle Ludvik in his ultimate resting place — the toilet. The anecdote of how a family member was devoured spoon by spoon quickly became the focus of family reunions. It seems evident that eating members of one’s species is illegal, yet no one can be held accountable if they are unaware of it.

J.B.Polk is Polish by birth, a citizen of the world by choice. The first story was short-listed for the Hennessy Awards, Ireland 1996. She regularly contributed to Women’s Quality Fiction, Books Ireland, and IncoGnito. She was also the co-founder of Virginia House Writers, Dublin, and helped establish the OKI Literary Awards. Since she went back to writing fiction in 2020, 57 of her stories have been accepted for publication.

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