This poem came out of the May 2012 Crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from ankewehner. It belongs to the series Hart's Farm.
All 13 verses have been posted. Linkers include: rix_scaedu, aldersprig, technoshaman, janetmiles, lb_lee, DW user jjhunter, DW user Chanter_greenie, wyld_dandelyon
Una ruled over the kitchen,
and in the days before Jul it was a busy place.
Her white apron covered a dress of deepest green
and her golden hair was pinned securely atop her head.
Everyone looked to her to orchestrate the preparations.
Elharn brought in the ham to thaw,
whole haunch of hog from the autumn butchering.
Rowen bundled the spices to boil with it,
tying them up in twists of cheesecloth.
Arnvid the carpenter made the bread
for dipping in the kettle to soak up the ham broth,
his steady hands kneading the dough on the smooth board.
Una baked the gingerbread cookies
and whipped the icing to a white froth.
She guided the children as they decorated the cookies,
placing swirls of icing and dots of red and green candies.
When Bjarni and Engelbert began to squabble,
they were firmly separated
and made to do each other's chores.
Muirgen the fisher braided her light brown hair
and rolled up the sleeves of her storm-gray dress.
She set the lutfisk to soak in a bowl
and brought jars of pickled herring from the pantry,
passing Solvig with her chalkboard of notes
about what they had used and had left.
The smokehouse yielded slabs of salmon
to be sliced thin and served on crusty bread.
There were sausages of all kinds to be prepared,
big ones and small ones and smoked ones
cooked and arranged neatly on their platters.
Una's plump hands were deft and sure
as they wielded the knife over the chopping block.
Auduna, now so roundly pregnant
that she waddled when she walked,
sat in a chair shredding the red cabbage for rödkål,
and the green kale for grönkål,
the sweet and sour side dishes among her favorites.
The kitchen was warm and crowded
and everyone talked as they worked,
happy chatter filling the air
like the smells of good food cooking.
Rowen cuddled with Arnvid
as they discussed building a spice cabinet.
Muirgen spoke of harvesting ice from the lake
and who might volunteer to saw or haul the blocks.
Auduna mulled over baby names,
trying out this one and that one
and asking everyone's opinion.
Una swirled through the conversations,
dipping into each one now and again
like a cook tasting the soup to see if it needed anything.
At last the time came to lay the table,
long dark boards covered by white lace
and weighed down by tall golden candelabras
with their beeswax tapers all ablaze.
White-and-blue china stacked high
and crystal goblets glimmered in the candlelight.
The vast hearth in the corner
roared with red flames around the Jul log.
Under the table there scampered a kitten,
her white coat marked with swirls of marmalade,
playing with the golden tassels on the chairs.
Inge and Aisling strolled in holding hands,
saw the kitten, and scooped her safely out of the way
to sit by the hearth with a bowl of fish.
Frida carried a huge tankard of sweet fizzy Julmust
from which she filled people's cups with the holiday drink.
Astrid stood at one end of the table
carefully slicing four different kinds of cheese,
her small hands steady on the plane.
Bergren leaned over to carve the ham,
thick slabs of bright pink meat falling onto the platter.
Leif presided over the feast in his role as Julfader,
enthroned behind a smaller table decorated with greenery
cradling a cask of wine and a spill of sun-gold coins.
Karin filled a plate for him, a sample of everything
brought to the side table as an offering.
In the dining hall, all was warm and bright,
bodies brushing fondly together as people took their places.
The small crystal panes of the windows
were feathered with frost, and outside
the wind swished past with curtains of cold white snow,
unable to touch what lay within.
* * *
Read about traditional dishes served for Jul or Christmas in Sweden. Lutfisk is a type of preserved fish. Rödkål is sweet-and-sour red cabbage. Grönkål is green kale. Julmust is a Swedish soft drink.
Julfader means "Yule Father," sometimes rendered as "Father Frost."