In search of story


March 5.19

Of all the rites of spring

as sure as tulip spear

the forty days of Lent

anchored budding year.

Forsaking sweets (so saintly!)

with purpled liturgies

we plodded ash-benighted

with callouses on knees.

Fish and macaroni

— with a ho, for purgatory! —

we loved and gobbled up

in pleasure gustatory,

and through the season’s sackcloth

on temptation’s slippery brink

cinnamony hot cross buns,

penitential wink.

I laugh at memories ancient

and admonishments infernal

but I don’t laugh at the lesson

that spring can be internal.


 Whatever your traditions, dear reader,

may Shrove Tuesday bring you spring!


With more thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.

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Connections: March 19


used to be

the first

forever imbedded

eared, eyed, and headed

for better or for worst.

The alpha note


awaking addiction

family friction

in eventual Czernian bloat.

Oh, the hours misspent

a perpetual Lent

da capo ad nauseam

no break or pauseam

my youth distorted and bent.

Why wasn’t I Rubenstein?

Why only me?

What sadistic muse

designed this ruse

this siren-song’d middle C?



Not just food

Easter dinner at Grandma’s was not simply a matter of eating together on Easter Sunday. It was Kilimanjaro. Triumph earned and celebrated. From Ash Wednesday through Good Friday, as the church draped itself in purples and blacks, organs went silent, and bells turned to clackers, we held our breath as though under water while the pageantry played out. Then came noon on Holy Saturday, the official end of Lent, when we gasped for air and lunged for the jelly beans.

Thus did Lent, especially Holy Week, serve as sensory appetizer to Easter dinner. It was not just food. It was color, music, a return to vice, which for me meant candy, of course. Grandma obliged with sugar eggs, but who could eat them? They were magical, with little scenes inside and sparkly sugar on the outside. Too pretty to eat. Besides, they tasted awful.

But there was more, like ham and potato salad, with which I endeared myself to my family by carefully scraping off any disgusting remnants of celery and onion before eating each potato chunk, and equally carefully excising any ham that was not a certain pink. Sometimes Grandma would mix crushed pineapple with shredded lettuce for salad, and, rather than commend me for my excellent skills in separating tiny lettuce pieces from tiny pineapple pieces, which I deemed inedible, they rolled their eyes and badgered me.

And did they congratulate me when I painstakingly lifted the icing from Grandma’s angel food cake so I could savor the icing by itself? No! They unceremoniously adjourned, leaving me as usual the last one eating.

I might have been Grandma’s Lent, but she treated me like Easter. It was always about more than food.