Grandmother’s Recipe

She and her husband were not convinced of the spirit that joined us all while sitting in a hard wooden pew,
but there was the warm, yeasty haven of her
communist kitchen, sweet with
fat brown bread and thin pancakes.
She knew lovers liked to dip shared spoons
into raspberry jam and children were forever
concocting winter, their knuckles all snowy from
her piles of flour and pots of sugar.
She knew what she believed, maybe it was Lenin staring at her from the dining room wall, or the way
berries lured her and the bears to the forest bush,
or that birds had it right, put your back to the past, and fly.
She knew hands held dreams for the belly.
Here she said, this is what you do:
Knead flour, egg  and butter, add sugar,  fold and knead again.
Fold dough over gently like layers of baby blankets,
fold gently like all those letters I sent to my mother
pretending we were happy.
Roll out, press, stretch and cut fast.
Dot each center flower with a jam, not too sweet,
make it prune, that fruit black as kaamos—winter dark.
Then fold into stars and brush them shiny with egg. Bake.
Set them on the Christmas table.
Go ahead. Eat a star. Right now this is our only heaven.
Sweet and crunchy and bitter in the center.

Diane Jarvenpa is the author of Divining the Landscape (New Rivers Press), Ancient Wonders, the Modern World (Red Dragonfly Press) and The Tender Wild Things (New Rivers Press). She has received a fellowship grant in writing from the Minnesota State Arts Board and a McKnight MacPhail performing fellowship. She is a singer/songwriter who records under the name Diane Jarvi.

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