Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pozywic ... for Poetry Thursday

The makings for a summer meal

Food, glorious food! That is the prompt for this week's Poetry Thursday, and one that is not difficult for me to think about. I was brought up on Eastern European food ... my grandparents on my father's side came directly from Poland and brought with them a tradition of fabulous cooking and passionate eating. Their table was always overflowing with wonderful dishes which my grandmother, Babcia, prepared from scratch every Sunday. She prepared Babka, pierogies, kasha, stuffed cabbage and many more family favorites. We carry on the tradition every Christmas, making wonderful pierogies stuffed with sauerkraut or mushrooms. I even tried some with an Italian twist one year, filling them with a mixture of mashed potatoes, rosemary and gorgonzola cheese ... fabulous!! I'm not sure she would have approved.

If we didn't eat enough by her standards, Babcia would tell us to: "Eat! eat!," and threaten that the wolf that lived in the pump house across the street would come and get us if we didn't. She always thought I was too skinny and continually tried to fatten me up. At the time I wasn't terribly happy about the situation. But with time I've become a great cook and love to eat food from all over the world. I'm sure she is smiling down at me right now as she watches me scurry around the kitchen, my thickened waistline attesting to my repentance.

The following poem was written for her.


(pozhi-veech), is the Polish verb to nourish, feed, refresh.

Babcia rises early kneads dough
foaming with yeast set with amber jewels
scrubs spent trousers socks and sheets
feeds them between clenched wringer jaws

She holds a squawking hen
against the block the body flies
searching for its own lost head and then
hanging upside down from the apple tree
paints the grass below I pull fistfuls of feathers
watch with sickened awe her hand disappearing
pulling ribbons of yellowblue guts unsown seed

My brothers and I gather baskets of beans lettuce
she collects dried shirts socks
punches dough pressing pockets
for mashed potato farmer's cheese
sauerkraut with caraway stuffs slivers
of garlic beneath fat blanketing the roast

The chicken swims with carrots
onions parsley filling the kitchen
with Sunday smells I stand
on the table under the arbor
picking grapes then in the garden
where rhubarb hides me
fill on gooseberries and currents

This feast takes all day we gallop
in and out playing Lone Ranger and Tonto
waiting for Dziadzio to carve the roast
share crackled fat crusty rye dipped in pan juices



twitches said...

Wow - that's one hell of a tasty poem. My mouth is watering! And I love how seamlessly you connect food to childhood and family - so apt.

Star said...

This is marvelous! It shows just how much those things are impressed in our minds and memories for you to be able to recall in such vivid detail. I love the image of the chicken swimming with the vegetables and the goodness of sopping up pan juices with some good bread--yum!

Dana said...

I love all this work, all this detail, so many strong verbs pushing this poem forward.

Becca said...

Oh my mouth was watering (once I got past the chicken guts part!)
Your poem reminded me so much of my grandmoter - although she was southern, the sentiment was the same. Food was serious business, and she worked hard every day to make those mouth watering dishes. (I grew up on real Kentucky fried chicken and buscuits, and belive me, the Colonel's doesn't compare!)
Wonderful post and poem! Unfortunately, I now have to eat my anemic working woman's excuse for dinner!

Cynthia said...

Yes, searching for his head. Seen that. My mom, one time, spent from the day's labors, wrung a chicken's neck for her mother in law. Not snapping it very well, the bent-necked chicken ran in circles after her. Now, I didn't see that, but her vivid story telling me about it makes me see it just the same.

I just spent the day with your Babcia and Dziadzio. Thanks for the invite.

ecm said...

Your picture is making me hungry! I love the line about the "searching for its own lost head" and what a beautiful way to remember a grandmother.

deirdre said...

I had to stop reading early in this to go get s snack. Then I got to the chicken part. :) Oh well. This is one delicious poem. Thanks for sharing your memories.

Ceebie said...

I love how the sentences run together, interweaving the sights, sounds, smells of your childhood.