Looking Glass, The Joy of Cooking, & The Understory

Looking Glass
Sheila Sondik           
                    after Maxine Kumin

Nothing surprises me more than my
reflection in shop windows, elderly
now, but certainly not like the aunts
of my childhood. I’m never caught wearing
a babushka or plastic rain hat, the
coverings which protected their heads
from perm-ruinous showers and the winds of
change. I was their sensitive but willful
niece artistic intelligent 
hating ballet and loving ponies
rejecting authority ready to stand
up for what seemed true at
whatever time and place the
struggle required. One side of the fence
saw me exulting, the other begging
for chocolate kisses and honeyed apples.
The Joy of Cooking 
Sheila Sondik  
                    after Maxine Kumin

I will write my biography in recipes: the
whole wheat pie crust filled with parsnips,
the casseroles, pastas, stir fries, and those
blintzes from my childhood like ones the rabbis
prescribe for days of dairy and desperation. I have
baked cornbread, casseroles, kugels, and braided
challahs. Most of these enthusiasms had their
passing eras, just as my husband’s beards
came and went. Picture all the meals together
laid side by side in a football field. I’d like to
fly a camera drone high overhead to examine
the tableau for its hidden meanings. The
colors, aromas, and flavors assemble a text
as esoteric and multilayered as the
ancient scrolls with dessert as the last word.
The Understory
Sheila Sondik  
                    after Linda Pastan

That red fungus cup over there
on the wet black fallen twig is
lighting up the duff telling us something
about whimsy making us feel almost hopeful
while the mosses wave their capsules about
and in spite of the dankness of early March
the days continue to grow into something
approaching a diurnal benevolent
grace we’re not at all sure about
but eventually we can’t deny the
unstoppable turning towards the light.

Sheila Sondik, poet and printmaker, lives in Bellingham, where the landscape is a constant source of inspiration and solace. Her poetry has appeared in CALYX, Bracken, Raven Chronicles, Kettle Blue Review, frogpond, and elsewhere. Egress Studio Press published her chapbook, Fishing a Familiar Pond: Found Poetry from The Yearling, in 2013. She loves gnarly word puzzles and is a member of the National Puzzlers’ League. The poems above are Golden Shovels, a form invented by Terrance Hayes—the last words of every line in a Golden Shovel, read in order, comprise a line or lines from another poet.


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