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Almonds and Flour
by Kathryn Santana Goldman
My head at nonna’s elbow,
I could just see above the counter,
sweet sugar, soft butter, fresh eggs,
my small 5-year-old hands ready to help.
She spoke in her magical Italian-English.
Our private language.
Her kind, gentle hands teaching me
to measure the flour.
With delighted self-importance,
I sifted the snow-white powder—
a blanket of ordinary dust
that promised my birthday cake.
Almonds in a bag did not exist.
Nothing sliced, salted or shelled.
“CRACK” released the nut from bondage.
I rescued the sweet meat from its cage.
Once free, we chopped and minced.
Some for the batter, some for the topping.
I don’t remember the proportions—
she probably didn’t have a recipe.
I do remember
the intoxicating aroma
of melting chocolate
and the warm air of her kitchen.
Nonna stirred the batter—the rhythm
a syncopated four-four time.
I would dance to her music,
sliding on black and white flour-dusted linoleum.
Luscious liquid flowed
into waiting greased pans,
an almost empty bowl
offered a lick of raw heaven.
songs and slices.
Hours at her side—
consumed so quickly.
Nonna died when I was 9.
Birthday celebrations continued,
my mother and aunts picking up the bowl,
eventually replaced with store bought delights.
I’m not a baker—too much of the art is done alone,
but memories of baking with nonna
make my mouth water
for a sweet slice of her love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kathryn Santana Goldman is a native of San Francisco. Her interest in poetry began when she was working in ICU as a registered nurse. She used this practice to process the variety of stressful scenarios experienced. Over the years, she has continued to experiment with different types of writing such as short stories and plays. As an avid traveler, Kathryn has become skilled at capturing photographs about the diversity she encounters. Three years ago, she began to combine her love of photography with her writing by using the images she captures as seeds for her poems. She continues to explore new ways to use these two art forms to share her experience with family and friends.
Vistas & Byways Review is the semiannual journal of fiction, nonfiction and poetry by members of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at San Francisco State University.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at San Francisco State University (OLLI at SF State) provides communal and material support to the Vistas & Byways volunteer staff.