Friday, January 01, 2010

Lemon meringue pie

We'd known it was the last time
though no one said

this task you'd set upon
with borrowed help
in borrowed hours and days
determined to do this for us
one last time.

It was triumphant.
As ever.

Soft and moussey melting whiteness
snow inside only on our tongues
soft with crunch on top, exquisitely browning crystal edges
gone in one's mouth
gone to nothing

the taste of childhood
and treats
little meringues drying in the airing cupboard
to be sandwiched with cream
not-quite-too-sweet

they were like nothing else.


Lemon layered like fresh spring
the bite beneath the sweet
always my favourite


- and in the kitchen salvage of skins and pips
squeezing soaking out the dregs of final flavour
an after-life of sorts
a frugal faith in the future
born in wartime
and outliving that and you.


Finally and perfectly beneath the velvet luxury
beneath those strata of bright yellow and white
(colour of primrose may when you died)
prosaic pastry
perfectly reassuring
grounded and balancing
plain comfort.


All of a piece.
A simple richness.
fragrantly redolent
childhood
family
carefulness.


We ate it without you while you rested in another room
close
far away and journeying
relishing flavours spoons scraping
laughing family trivialities
finding comfort around the gaping hole in our midst.


And now today who would have guessed at yet another goodbye
waiting in this other pastry case?


I was waylaid
ambushed by the dessert.
poleaxed by the pudding.


Savour.
Swallow.
the lump in my throat melts in sweet sharpness

I'd sooner never wash it down
not with anything

It will not last

It will linger

until the next time