Passing the Market
18 September 2009
Yelena rubs her aged hands against the potato,
feeling the roots digging against the rough potato skin,
smiling to herself as she imagines the okroshka,
the scent of simmering the potatoes and red onions.
Apples, not like the tree in grandpapa's field,
here are Granna Smith, Liberty, varieties of all shapes.
"Look at all these beautiful apples," she says to herself.
Though she speaks it aloud, no one listens to her words.
Oranges, worth their weight in gold in the Motherland,
tropical spiny balls of taste and sweetness,
she cannot help but frown as she was 60,
before the taste of the dripping juice touched her lips.
Turnips and rutabagas and lettuce and, goodness, the peppers,
delicacies that will be served for food without the appreciation,
though she remembers all too well from youth,
to consider every bite and taste not knowing when the next would be.
She imagines herself as a child,
tasting her grandpapa's botvinya, wetness of kvass,
standing in the kitchen with him, as he gently observed her,
"Careful cutting, dear Lena, the taste is within the roots!"
The world has moved onward,
though she believes that grandpapa would weep with her,
now standing at just the entrance to the market,
people staring strangely at her, an old woman, this is all they see.
For Yelena, it is enough to look over with dismay,
all this wonderful food, all these markets,
but what good is all of it presented here,
without the sweat and hard-work to achieve it?
She has forgotten the family recipes within her age,
but those many scents and tastes remain with her,
for within a peaceful Thursday morning at the market,
an old woman momentarily found her childhood again.