Friday, September 21, 2018

Poem—Michael Sandler

Poem—Michael Sandler

October 4, 2011 in 2010 January-February
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Lokshin Kugel

Noodles. Perhaps they’re chosen—the lokshin, pasta—
because they’ve wandered far—not Marco Polo or some Khan
but from Jerusalem’s Talmud (Beitza 60d) which calls it
itriyta, something preserved—afterward, Arabs lade itriyah
on feluccas bound for Marsala,
not the fresh noodles, lakhsha (from Persian, not Parmesan)
that exiles in Venice later roll and cut at a ghetto hearth;
then on further inquisition, they all float north
ionized, frothing in my great-grandmother’s pot.

Eggs. To bind it together, to a whole,
as if Abraham and Bedouin were fraternal,
as the mixer spins round, as recipe can reincarnate—
broken, beaten, whipped, then reborn as would-be flan—
as a mother’s notes shape fumblings at an oven.
A large casserole. In our family, mostly round.
No linguist, grandma called it “ovate”
as if to say die Kugel points to the puffed and round,
a convected warmth burgeoning from the circle.

Meat/oil or sugar/cottage cheese. A false fork
unless someone here is kosher or a keeper of tradition.
The oiled way is paved in schmaltz
(some may substitute Wesson)—
a minaret of steam, neurons sparked with onions, salt…
The sweet road curves along my mother’s even hand:
“either cottage or farmers” (for sugar, butter, no deviation).
Raisins. Let’s include them, a hint of the Levant,
unless my daughter has a point of view—and squawks.

Top with corn flakes. My mother’s script
says “optional” then, almost her voice, “a variation
for the children”—as if this weren’t about the children.
Her notations concise: Cinnamon to taste.
My taste feels dormant, if not lost. Or inept
as if walled from flavors of the East. Or maybe lost,
unless a child savors this arcing from the past.
Bake until amber. Mine looks overdone,
the noodles parched, the texture somewhat dry within.

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