Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Jed Feffer's poem, The Archetypal Recipe


The Archetypal Recipe                                                        
Jed last summer

Swirling pink and green cupids
aiming arrows on the candy dish cover.          
Moth balls packed around the clothes
in the walk in closets.
Leaves banked against the garage,
The sweet smell of age inside
where bicycles, skates and tires sat.
An upholstered green Pontiac
with colorful red and chrome Chief
bonneting the hood.
A backseat of dust motes
and grey velvet cushions
as the motor purred down the street.
Walks in Forest Park Zoo
where bears snorted Wonderbread,
and chimps swayed in the urine laced air.
Trips to the X where we entered
the Bijou for a quarter
to see Steve Reeves demolish
the Temples of the Infidels.
Coming back to the small
bricked ranch on Shawmut Avenue
with balsa wood rubber banded aircraft,
and paddles fitted with tiny pink balls
attached to very long elastic strings.
These were the recipes of childhood
at Bubbie's and Grandpa Jake's.
These were the lunches of fried fish
heavy with oil and onions.
Kreplach, meat filled Jewish dumplings,
swimming in chicken broth;
Lokshen, noodle puddings,
filled with butter and cottage cheese;
fricassee'd chicken  with tiny golden mushrooms.
Cold gefilte fish swimming in carrots and gelatin
served with bright beet horseradish.
Blintzes bursting with cheese and covered
in sour cream and berries;
Apple strudel with walnuts and raisins;
Poppy seed Hamentashen and
cinammon nut rugelach.
Bubbie, dressed in her nightgown
sipping coffee without her teeth,
and doling it out to us, her grandchildren.
Grandpa, reading the Yiddish paper
with his black rimmed glasses,
looking like Nikita Kruschev.
The children lined up to get Chanukah gelt,
or answering the primeval Passover question:
"Why is this night different from all other nights?"
All recipes for familial warmth.
Mrs. Rispler coming from across the street
proclaiming, "Molly, so when did they get here??"
Bubbie hovering around the room like a giant dreidal
ladling, cutting, lifting, smiling,
and later when the questions would arise
over this recipe or that one,
she would plead ignorance,
happy to keep the mystery of her power alive.
"Just put a little of this with eine bissel of that, 
you know!" And of course we didn't.
We would be affectionately kept enthralled
by the recipes and the routines
never fully grasping the logic beneath the myth.
The plums ripening fully green and fully ripe
in the center of the yard,
the tree like some symbol of the first Eden
growing smack dab in the middle of the 
little ranch house lot on Shawmut Avenue.
Bubbie forever aproned; Grandpa forever smiling;
Recipes for male and female,
for light and dark,
for family and belonging.
Forever enshrined in the little rooms of our hearts.

Jed Feffer
Greensboro, Vermont
January 2, 2019






Jed Feffer seated on the left, not at his
grandparents' place on Shawmut Avenue but at
the Wednesday Poets' (first ever) Winter Gathering