An Irish Lasagna
Auntee Mamee, we kids called her. We liked
the way she whistled as she walked and how
she laughed at our father as if he was the size
we were. As the story neared its ending, he laid
the noodles out to dry like ancient bones
while he made the filling sing obbligato
in our only frying pan. He never said a word,
just dipped and whirled as if the kitchen were
the time and place where he was meant to rule
and listen to this story of his sister Mame
while the children kept their hungry watch,
our mouths dropped open at the history.
The cream sauce bubbled up like mumps,
the pine nuts danced diablerie.
Dinner slid down our throats like sin. Food
of another place, cooked by a strange hand.
The noodles snugged in leaning towers more
graceful for the maker’s luck than craft.
We didn’t know if we should compliment
the cook but survival overruled, said
eat fast, clear out before all towers fall.
Our mother sprayed the used-up baking dish
with a clear glue, to help our memory
and hung it, centered, going up the stairs.