On One Hand

February 2, 2006

Palenta

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 3:34 pm
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Diagonal rays of sun pour warm milk on the old woman’s shoulders.

She stands cutting tomatoes as the spotlight reflection of daylight glinting off of the steel knife searches for relics in the old kitchen. The sliver of light finds: A hanging bag of garlic cloves. A flowerpot growing rosemary on the windowsill. An image of Christ holding his chest to reveal a thorn-crowned heart. A jar of golden olive oil. A porcelain statue of the Madonna with Child. A rack of metal stirring spoons that splinter and refract the light into a host of dancing, colored points.

The old woman drops the cut tomato slices into the panzanella, which the children call “tomato salad,” and sets it in the humming refrigerator next to the baccala. Her granddaughters will arrive soon, so she has also made palenta and marinara sauce. She is brewing coffee on the counter top and a package of store-bought chocolate chip cookies rests beside the pot. When the girls come they bring her an Easter lilly wrapped in colored tinfoil and look through photo albums and talk about their children in high school.

Late that night the cockroaches scurry beneath the floorboards, inaudible like the faint croak of the old woman talking in her sleep. Bedsheets roll like waves as the woman’s porous bones demand readjustment, but they do not make a sound when she stirrs.

The mice in the corner know nothing of the silence. They chatter in the manic frenzy of the few remaining crumbs. They find: A stale piece of cookie. A dried morsel of palenta. A piece of string. A fallen rosary bead. A tomato seed.

The maid comes in the morning to check on the woman and bring groceries. She has tomatoes, dried spaghetti, cucumber, cereal, green onions, fresh basil, frilly lettuce, bread, milk, eggs, applesauce, ground beef, calcium supplements, a slab of frozen codfish and another bag of cornmeal for palenta. She leaves quickly and the old woman is alone.

The old woman steps into the kitchen where the food rests on the table in a brown paper bag. She reaches a quivering hand in to examine its contents. She wonders what she will make next Sunday when her granddaughters come.

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4 Comments »

  1. oh my god, I was just like strolling thru old LJ posts and saw you commented on mine back when I lived in Boulder and worked in Denver

    and now I live in Denver again, and yeah
    we used to talk on here when I was lj user=goblynking (or) lj user=SpongeBobby

    Comment by lazarus_pryor — February 3, 2006 @ 11:58 am | Reply

  2. i really liked this. reminds me a lot of visiting my grandmother when she used to live on the farm. nice saturday morning reminiscing for me.

    Comment by Anonymous — February 4, 2006 @ 7:17 pm | Reply

  3. i really liked this. reminds me a lot of visiting my grandmother when she used to live on the farm. nice saturday morning reminiscing for me.

    denise

    Comment by Anonymous — February 4, 2006 @ 7:23 pm | Reply


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