Norah Christianson 


     for Elaine Bloomer, wherever you are 

         Fat, organdy-ruffled, curled 
and mean, Elaine would lean 
across the couch and in silence, 
without expression, like 
a scientist probing a worm, 
she’d pinch the skin 
on my skinny arm 
between her fingernails 
until a bright pearl of blood 
appeared, red as 

        the jelly spot at the end 
of the donuts her starch-aproned mother, 
grandmother and aunt—all bounteously fat— 
would bring on doilies of white paper and 
a silver dish.  Oh, the richness! 
Oh, the smell of dough and sugar 
in that mad and manless house!  The reek 
of butter, batter and sweet, sweet cream! 
Vanilla’s fume, scalded milk and ginger, 
snuff of nutmeg, caramel and smaze of lemon rind! 
Oh, oil of grenadine! 

        In my mother’s prudent kitchen 
dessert was Sundays only. 
Friday, codfish.  Back Bay 
baked beans and brown bread Saturdays, 
and through the week, leeks, ham stock and 
cabbage oppressed the air. 
Organdy was for the altar, 
doilies were a Protestant excess, 
and men and dogs were everywhere. 

        But, for that dusted donut, that fatty sac 
of quivering cherry gel, 
that powdered, pregnant blim of ruby sweet, 
I’d spill my blood each week and never sing, 
and sit with fat Elaine upon the couch 
to eat the goddamn thing. 

Copyright 2000, Norah Christianson 

Norah Christianson was a recipient of The Academy of American Poets prize from the University of Bridgeport, and was editor of the Connecticut River Review for the past five years. She and her two children live in Stratford, Connecticut.

Switched-on Gutenberg/Vol. 4, No. 2