(Watercolor of a Coal Barge, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2006)
The prompt over at dversepoets pub is ‘recipe’…but not just of cookery. There are many recipes in life. Check out the poems this prompt has brought forth from poets. A very fruitful prompt indeed at a particular time of the Season.
How do you measure another life?
By success, or fortitude or some sort
Of battle-field glory?
The woman I am named for,
Must have been made of steel,
Blind courage and all the above.
From Hungary on a boat
Steerage of course, in the darkness part
Of the ship, where air and comfort were
Paid for by donations from the village,
Where expectations of survival were bleak
If the ship sprang a leak,
Yet this sixteen year old girl made the trip
From some village in Hungary,
(and went back five times pregnant, steerage of course,
to bring out family from oppression and famine).
Registered at Ellis Island,
She was a pretty
Met my grandfather straight
Off the boat.
They broke the bed,
that first night of married life
And the gossips in the tenement said
She would be fruitful, with dark hair and dark eyes
A Magyar, but not a gypsy, as if that mattered.
Fruitful enough, with thirteen children born,
Enough survived to build a clan.
One son, my father, cut down his own father,
Hanging from the rafters.
Poverty and cares must have made him
Choose this over life.
Elizabeth went on
And raised her children
And no one starved
And everyone became fruitful
In the course of their own lives…
She made satin quilts,
That slipped off beds
Braided rugs from rags
Precious cloth not to be thrown away,
To be, as we say now: ‘repurposed”.
Sitting on the treadle of her sewing machine
As it went up and down to the rhythm of her labor
Seeing her stockings rolled up beneath her knees
Tied with cloth, and that rhythm and those knees
Were the security of love that was missing from home.
Large glass jars on the floor grates in her kitchen,
Where milk was curdled for sour cream
Half lemon stopper we competed to squeeze
The smell of boiled cabbage permeated the house
Like the comforting scent of an old woman
With embracing arms and a wrinkled bosom.
She died when I was twelve,
Taught me to make quilts and kiflies
A buttery pastry filled with fruit, nuts.
Every Christmas and Easter
I roll out the dough and fill the pastry
With love remembered from an old woman
Whose name I carry and whose heart
I can only hope to.
Grandmother Elizabeth’s Kiflie Recipe.
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese (full fat, please)
2 sticks of butter (don’t cheat and use margarine)
3 cups of unbleached flour (scant)
Get a good husband to knead into dough, or use a mixer. Chill.
Roll out and cut into squares.
Fill with Levar (prune paste) or apricot paste (simmer both separately until pasty)
Or crush walnuts, mix with egg white and scant sugar,
Fold over the squares and bake for 20 minutes in 350 oven (not too fast an oven)
When cool…sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Bet you can’t eat just one!
Merry Xmas and all other holidays at this time of the year!
…..STEAL THIS RECIPE!