A Bag of Pinwheel Biscuits

The local cakeshops were not ethnic enough for us

with their glutinous lemon tartlets,

precise demarcations of vanilla slices, Neenish tarts and layer cakes,

lamingtons stacked like miniature railway sleepers,

lascivious eclairs and cream buns,

glace cherries, sugared flowers and pearls,

rows of pink and green meringues arrayed on glass shelves,

slightly puzzling tokens of passage between

that world and ours.

            But there was a little shop where, sometimes,

on the way home from Sunday School, we’d stop to buy

a paper bag’s worth of chocolate pinwheel biscuits,

their warmth leaving a dark slick on the paper.

And then there was my grandmother’s famous lekach,

an almond flour cake that had to wait for my pronouncement

when, to everyone’s jovial expectation,

I would be invited not to taste, but to hold

a slice close to my ear and squeeze;

reporting on the satisfactory hiss, like a receding wave,

of ingredients settling in amicable proportion,

their sheen on my fingers lifted to my ears, with every slight press

hearing “this is how it was,

and then this, and then this…” 

learning that taste alone

makes a poor judge of risen things:

they can be sliced too thickly,

sometimes they have burned edges,

and sometimes, like the tiny centre of a chocolate swirl

pressed out onto a plate,

they have been left too long, grown hard and dry.

Meniscus, December 2021