Poetry / March 2013 (Issue 20)

Making Mines Frires

by Dominique Ahkong

Some Saturdays, my grandfather towers
over the kitchen counter,
flouring the surface, clearing his throat.
My mother and grandmother trickle water
and crack runny suns into a powdered white well.
They whisk and mix until the walls collapse.

My grandmother kneads the dough
with the heels of her palms, rolling and folding
until it becomes a ball she can pinch.

They let it sit.
The pasta machine gleams.

When it is time, he flattens the ball with his fingers
and feeds it through the steel mouth, cranking the handle.
He catches it from the tail, an oval sheet
that he folds and feeds through again and again
until it lengthens like a scroll.

Finally, he inserts the teeth.
Ribbons sprout like limbs in a Ghibli cartoon.

My grandmother plunges the strands into boiling water.
She dries them on a tray beside the fan.
She spoons olive oil over them so they won’t stick together
and swirls chopsticks the length of my arm to help them dry.

I wait for them to toss these laces in the wok
with blades of spring onion, ribbons
of French beans, carrots, and soya sauce.

I ask to touch.

From the women, some consolation: a floury stub,
too small and wiry for grease to save—
while he stands and scowls.

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