Verses by Terri Gilson; Art by Elizabeth Thanklice
For the children, the excitement was short-lived;
They‘d already moved on to their games,
Emancipated from the slippery dough. Glistening.
tangy, cheesy potato, bursting through the seams.
Filling tray after tray,
lined up on the long table.
Rolling, stuffing, pinching, laughing.
A chair moves away,
occasionally, upsetting the order.
But for mere moments.
You are invited to:
WHAT: A Pierogi Party!
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 17th, 2013, 2 to 4 PM
WHERE: 125 Rockcarrock Circle S.W.
RSVP to: (403) 727-2165 or email@example.com by Nov. 1st, 2013
Gazing at the invitation, he was transported back,
back in time, to Baba’s little house. Bursting.
Much too small for a family of five.
But then, for a time, only her.
Strings of gooey dough, clinging to her palms,
fervently wiping them away on her apron,
as she moved to embrace him.
Lost in her delightful fragrance, that delectable blend of sautéed onion, fried bacon fat and Chanel No. 5,
And yet, he could only think of the pierogies.
Now he inhales. Deeply. Aching. Straining to imprison the memory,
permanently imprint, lock it away, impervious to the ravages of time.
Pudgy. Dimpled, fleshy arms encircling him
plump, moist lips brushing his cheek,
indifferently wiped away.
How much has he already fabricated,
to fill the hollow spaces
that thirty-five years created?
The invitation lay in wait, in his inbox,
for five days, before he acquiesced.
Although, he thought he should…
NO. He needed to go.
Always so busy.
Someone says, “Hey, this isn’t a party. This is a pierogi sweatshop!”
More laughter. Chatter.
The wine flows, the pinching grows less tedious.
How many hours has it been?
The alcohol buzz waning, shadows expanding.
how many more are there to make?
As dusk gives way to darkness.
Four decades ago, in the recesses of her sweltering kitchen,
never noticing the perspiration, the grime, the desperation.
She, perched at the counter; kneading, rolling, stuffing. Solitary.
Endless hours of work,
week after week.
He remembers the good-byes. Her waving, lingering, long after the car had disappeared.
Her smile vanishing, into the void,
between the long, lonely hours and days after the partings.
Never once thinking of her,
consumed by friends, music lessons, school, soccer.
He, not yet privy to
the tragic compromise of youth
Oblivious to what was to come,
and in return,
spared the burden of wistful gratitude,
for all that will be lost.
At fifty, crossing over the threshold from middle age,
not much younger than she was; not yet an old man,
but dismally aware of the acceleration,
of the hour hand, mercilessly mocking.
There is no time,
for anything so involved,
So they make it a party.
Virtual strangers, yet united, in this art. Tradition.
Unified by this need to preserve mutual heritage;
to preserve themselves.
“Do we boil before freezing?”
No one is really sure.
The children, now returning to the table,
blind to the significance of their absence
and their own impermanence.
After all that,
only two dozen to leave with.
The feast begins.
And whilst the others eat mindfully, cognisant of a scarcity still foreign to their generation,
the children eat with abandon,
not yet grateful for the abundant aromas, the delicious memories,
the sticky dough, kneaded with love,
the regrets to come,
nor for the time,
the time stretching endlessly before them,
and for that place in time,
where they will long to recreate all of this.