Friday, July 21, 2017

paradis de Paris


Read about Poetry Friday here!
Today I'm sharing my first Summer Poem Swap arrival (which actually arrived quite a while ago).  Thanks to Tabatha some of us Poetry Friday regulars are receiving little gifts of poetry all summer; she's been organizing this for a few years now.  My gifter this time is Margaret Simon, who heard that I was traveling to France and--most reasonably--assumed Paris.

It's true that I have been to Paris; indeed while IN the south of France for yet another 4th of July, we realized that it was exactly the 10th anniversary of my family's Great Move to Paris, when we exchanged our house with a French family and moved to Vincennes, juste à côté du deuxième arrondissement, more or less across the street from a castle.  We spent only a year there, but all that Margaret has included in her dream of a poem was part of it. When we returned we fell back into life American-style so quickly and thoroughly that it felt like Paris actually had been a dream!


Luckily Margaret has that covered too; along with her poem, she sent a happy handcrafted exhortation to "BELIEVE" that it all really happened, and to "imagine you ARE heaven."  I'm not sure I can go that far, but having returned for just one beautiful evening to Paris, I can easily imagine that I was IN heaven!  I do long to live in France again--but perhaps in the south this time, along the Mediterranean...


I especially enjoyed (being, as I was once called, the love child of Emily Dickinson and e.e. cummings) how Margaret slipped in a few choice lines from Edward Estlin--can you pick them out?  And of course I must write a little response poem!  I'll work off of Margaret's piece and put in some of my similar but specific memories...isn't French a beautiful language?

Paris Parle

She moved to Paris--
was it a dream?--
floating over the river Seine
gliding through the Chateau de Vincennes
with new life in her love.

Paris spoke to her
in the silence of her listening,
the rush of the Metro,
the mélodie of the markets.

She marveled at espaces magnifiques,
spiral acres of concrete and
cobble, miles of white night.

Paris entered her
like Nutella on daily pain,
sucre citron and crêpes de sarrasin,
goûter de Papi Gâteau.
She moved through Paris as in heaven.

HM 2017

Thank you, Margaret, for the inspiration of your pieces, and thank you to Katie at The Logonauts for doing the rounding up today!


Friday, July 14, 2017

macaroni & cheese with my mother


I'm wishing a Happy Birthday to my mom today--which we have always known was Bastille Day--but it turns out that July 14 is also National Macaroni & Cheese Day.  Fancy that! 




It also turns out that there was a lot to learn about macaroni & cheese, especially the mass-produced kind that I grew up with (hey! it's a coupla years older than my mom, even!), and I will regale you with some interesting tidbits about its distinctive color before we get to my poem, which--as do all autobiographical poems--probably contains some powdery lumps of veritable untruth.



Industrial food coloring





Colby cheese colored with annatto



Annatto is used currently to impart a yellow or orange color to many industrialized and semi-industrialized foods. In the European Union, it is identified by the E number E160b.  Annatto has been a traditional colorant for Gloucester cheese since the 16th century. During the summer, the high levels of carotene in the grass would have given the milk an orange tint which was carried through into the cheese. This orange hue came to be regarded as an indicator of the best cheese, spurring producers of inferior cheese to use annatto in order to replicate it. The custom of adding annatto then spread to other parts of the UK, for cheeses such as Chesire and Red Leicester, as well as colored cheddar made in Scotland.[10][11] Many cheddars are produced in both white and red (orange) varieties, with the latter being more popular despite the only difference between the two being the presence of annatto as a coloring.[12] That practice has extended to many modern processed cheese products, such as American cheese and Velveeta.

A Threat

“Buy Sugar Pops or die!”
My brother, taller now, held a kitchen knife
to my mother’s throat.
He didn’t mean it, would never have hurt her,
but he was right:
my mother did not buy Sugar Pops, Coca-Cola,
or Twinkies. 
The closest we got to popular grocery products
was Kool-Aid,
lemonade flavor only, the thin packet only,
without added sugar.  She mixed it with less
than called for.
But I think, I hope I remember that we did have
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese,
prepared with the amounts of butter and milk
specified on the blue box.

Yellow-orange for years, until in 1993 Crayola
actually named an orange-yellow crayon
“macaroni and cheese.”
That color was how we knew we were getting
the real deal—
a real deal that my own kids were denied,
Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 having fallen into
rightful disfavor.
They ate the pale substitute, Annie’s Organic
Shells and Cheese, and they were
not fooled.
They knew the real stuff was inorganic orange,
and if Trader Joe’s had not found a way
to replicate the Kraft color using annatto,
it would now be me
with a knife to my throat, my tall son snarling,
“Buy Kraft Mac and Cheese or die!”

©HM 2017
*********************************************


I want to thank my brother, Mark Mordhorst, who has a better memory than I, and Catherine Flynn, for pointing me in the direction of an exercise by Rita Dove in The Practice of Poetry, which sent me down this path! 

The round-up today is with Tabatha, who had the genius idea of celebrating this day with mac&cheese poems!