A Literary Magazine in Support of the Jewish Community

Estelle’s Christmas Cookies by Elizabeth Edelglass

Estelle’s Christmas Cookies

Estelle’s Christmas Cookies

My mother’s wiry black script

on the fifty-year-old 3x5 card

from the rusty recipe box

she gave me for my wedding

along with something blue—

tiny ribbon bow on rusty pin

once pinned to the hem of her

own ivory Orbach’s wedding suit.

 

1 cup sugar, 6 oz. Spry

My mother was spry, back when Spry

was a thick white shortening,

like lard, but not

in my mother’s Jewish kitchen.

 

2 eggs

My mother had two Estelles—

Tannenbaum and Horowitz.

I’m not positive which was

Christmas-cookie Estelle,

but memory tells me Tannenbaum

(I admit to the obvious).

 

3 cups flour, 2 t baking powder, 1 t salt

My mother didn’t bake Christmas cookies.

Her mandel broit recipe card

reads add enough flour until thick,

use your hands. Estelle brought Christmas

cookies every year at Hanukkah—

they were my favorite.

 

Juice of 1 lemon, and grated rind

The ink runs a bit here,

my mother’s poor choice of pen—

not planned for fifty years?

Both Estelles died in their fifties,

as women did in those days.

 

Spritz through cookie press.

I baked my mother’s favorite

mandel broit as she lay dying

at ninety-five, to entice, to please.

She twisted her face, unpleased,

her tongue spritzing unswallowed

bits into my hand, as she stared

past my shoulder to greet her mother

in the doorway. Look!

 

Estelle’s Mother’s Christmas Cookies

My mother’s wiry script.

How did I miss Mother’s all these years?

Estelle’s mother, who fled pogroms

to America, same as my grandmother.

 

1 cup sugar, 6 oz. Spry

I copy Estelle’s mother’s recipe,

with my waterproof blue Sharpie.

My mother’s mandel broit, too,

and her rugelach, my grandmother’s strudel.

They go in a box not yet rusty, for my daughter,

who emails recipes back—

balsamic chicken,

tofu mac and cheese,

Thanksgiving pumpkin cake

with chocolate chips.

Elizabeth Edelglass

Elizabeth Edelglass is a fiction writer and book reviewer who finds herself writing poetry in response to today’s world—personal, national, and global. Her first published poems have appeared in Compressed, Global Poemic, Trouvaille Review, Paper Brigade, Sledgehammer, and Sylvia. Her fiction has won the Reynolds Price Fiction Prize, the William Saroyan Centennial Prize, the Lilith short story contest, and the Lawrence Foundation Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review.

 

Elizabeth Edelglass