Baltic Bread. A poem by Dolly Dennis

Dolly and her young mother, and her doll, waiting to come to Canada
BALTIC BREAD – (for my mama)

autumn.
unraked lawns,
yarns of lilac twigs garnish gardens, now ignored.
a new school year. i comb neglected leaves, 
meditate, salivate, remember black bread and sour cream—
after class, a run to the bakery.
such a hunger for a six year old. i start to nibble, 
nosh like Alice down the rabbit hole, 
reach home, the heel of the bread gone. 
a scolding. no super supper tonight,
no sauerkraut, no Baltic bread.
just sour cream on nothing.
			∞
your last words to me from your hospital bed,
i love you, love you, love you.
a profusion, a confusion of phone dates followed—
Dali, no Sunday. you were chomping down your 
smashed potatoes with a sauce of ketchup, 
so unlike your daily Baltic bread and cepilinai.*
no ma, it’s Saturday. a bewilderment of lost time.
			∞			
i love you love you, your alto voice
pierced the line from Montreal to Edmonton.
i joined in a duet of love songs,
a mother and a daughter, one last time—
i love you love you, truly i do.
			∞		
that’s why i called a day early. your son’s threat
to separate us needed intervention.
did you say it or did he invent the lie—
i never want to see you again. i leave you nothing.
what did i do? exhausted from a pandemic
game of minds that erupted without notice,
you jumped from your second-floor window.
got my attention and now what? 
			∞			
an occasion for your son to change his tale—
a mix up of meds left your mind busy, dizzy he said.
you had leaned against the unlocked window 
plunging into an abyss of dead shrubs,
short of being stabbed by the wrought iron fence.
which is the truth?

*cepilinai. Zepplin, (a Lithuanian dish)

Born in a refugee camp in Kiel, Germany, Dolly Dennis’ ancestry is Lithuanian. She was raised in Montreal, Quebec, moving to Edmonton, Alberta in 1993. Her work has appeared on stage, in literary journals, newspapers, corporate newsletters, anthologies and the CBC. Her first play won two awards at the Quebec Drama Festival of One Act plays, and she’s also been shortlisted for the James H. Gray Award for non-fiction. In 2014, Guernica Editions published her first book, Loddy-Dah, and in May 2020 Toronto’s Dundurn Press released her second book, The Complex Arms. She is currently writing her childhood memoir, The Quiet Wound, which depicts her life as a displaced person (a DP), a child refugee and all that it entailed.

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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie is now completing her first novel where, for a family with a Seventh-day Adventist father and a Mennonite mother, the End Times are just around the corner. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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