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Poem: "In Our Many Images" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "In Our Many Images"

This poem is from the April 1, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from lb_lee and wyld_dandelyon.  It also fills the "Love is in the air" square in the Spring and Autumn Bingo public card.  This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  It belongs to the series Monster House.


In Our Many Images


It's spring,
and love is in the air.

My nephew is a little nervous,
because he and his boyfriend
have passed the one-year anniversary,
which is pretty serious for high-school kids.

I invite them over to help cook,
because there's a housewarming on the block
and we're bringing the cookies.

Both nephew and boyfriend
are still a bit tentative about
the special members of our family,
but they're learning.

Ghosts of course are the easiest --
usually male or female, as humans are,
because they were  humans once,
and can be anything we are.
Our little old lady ghost knows
that there's nothing new under the sun;
she thinks the boys are adorable together.

The boogeyman belongs
to kind always male;
there are female night terrors too,
but they are other kinds.

The monsters under-the-bed
and in-the-closet are cousins,
and both male for what it's worth,
coming from a family much like ours.
Both of them have sisters somewhere else.

The lurking shadow has
neither sex nor gender,
born out of light and darkness alone.

They are made
not in our image,
but in our many images.

They are happy to help us
bake cookies for the new neighbors.

The boogeyman,
who is secure in his masculinity,
is wearing an apron the same color
as a Barbie Dream House.

My wife's apron has
tools screenprinted on it;
we're flexible that way.

I can't help smiling
when the boyfriend realizes
there are no plain aprons left
and blithely wraps himself in a lacey one.
It gets him a floury handprint on his fanny,
courtesy of my nephew.

It takes hours to cut out all the cookies,
because the "Sold" signs can be
made from a plain square
and we have a cottage cookie cutter
but the white picket fences
have to be cut from templates.

The boogeyman is
really quite good with a knife.

After baking the cookies,
we have to color the royal icing,
some thick for outlining
and some thin for flooding.

We divide into teams
to decorate the houses
and the fences and the signs,
all done in delicate spring pastels.

Royal icing needs to set overnight,
and then in the morning,
we put the dry luster dust
on the keys to turn them golden.

The house down the block
is bustling with people,
some from our neighborhood,
others who are friends of the couple
driving in from elsewhere.

The two men are presiding
over their new kitchen,
organizing everything into a buffet.

"Where did you buy these?"
the taller one exclaims
when we present the cookies.
"They're beautiful!"

"We made them,"
my nephew says.

"Then I'm sure they'll be
all the more special,"
says the softer and rounder
of the two husbands,
who we later learn is a transman and
still getting the hang of this manhood thing.

The Solem family has brought
an entire stockpot of Swedish meatballs,
and they're chatting avidly with the newcomers
although they're still taking care
to keep their tails hidden.

Somebody else has done up
a fruit salad in a splendidly sculpted watermelon.
There's a heaping platter of asparagus too,
fresh from the garden.

It's spring,
and love is in the air --

not just romance,
although the two gay couples
are holding hands

and the singles in the foyer
are starting to pair off like robins --

but the love of family,
ours and the Solems
swarming with kids of all ages,

and the caring of neighbors
coming together to welcome someone new.

It doesn't matter
who you are or how you love,
only that you find people to live with
who love you as you are.

* * *

Notes:

"Lurking" first introduced the shadow with the pronoun "it."  Agender is one term for people without a polarized gender.  Neutrois is the gender term that matches the sex term neuter.

"Secure in his masculinity" is a phrase sometimes applied to men who do things associated with the feminine gender.  It means that he defines manhood in his own way, and doesn't feel compelled to leave out the tender or frilly parts just because of what some people might think.

A housewarming party often features gifts of food, such as welcome cookies.  These new home cookies have separate tutorials for the picket fence templates and the luster dust on the keys.

"Until the Cows Come Home" introduced the Solem family, who are huldrefolk. 

Swedish meatballs and watermelon salad are two popular recipes for housewarmings, potlucks, or other takealong occasions.

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Comments
siege From: siege Date: April 6th, 2014 06:11 am (UTC) (Link)
A tip for frugal households: If you have a wide-mouthed metal funnel you don't use much (they used to be popular for canning, to fill jars without mess), you can shape the end of the funnel with a pair of pliers to make a basic cookie cutter shape like a house or a heart.

For more complex shapes, making your own will require a sheet of metal; you can get sheets of copper or tinplate as a roofing supply from hardware and building stores, or (particularly copper) as craft material at craft stores, and sometimes other metals like brass or steel are also available. Get something stiff enough to hold up, but thin enough to cut without a sharpened edge (you don't want bleeding, especially if children are helping). Don't get hard metals unless you know how to work them, but copper and tin are soft enough to shape by hand using tin snips and pliers. I suggest using minimal soldering if possible, as metal solders often contain lead or bismuth, which you don't want in your food.

Sterilize before use the first time, but be careful not to melt any solder that way.

I recommend that you do NOT wash hand-made cookie cutters in an automatic dish washer, and that you dry them thoroughly as soon as you can, to prevent corrosion. Modern store-bought cookie cutters are often made of very thin stainless steel, but corrosion resistant metals are not always available when you make your own.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: April 6th, 2014 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Or you could simply get old metal cookie cutters at a thrift store and tweak them.

Tin cans would work, too, especially the shorter ones like tuna fish. Take both ends off, use a pair of pliers to bend down any sharp edges, and re-shape to suit.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2014 08:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

Both of those work too. A tuna can is my preferred biscuit cutter.
cflute From: cflute Date: December 31st, 2016 07:44 am (UTC) (Link)

the art of food

Depending on what shape(s) you want, keep an eye out for end-of-season sales. I picked up a set of three brand-new cookie cutters for under $1 earlier this week. Got a great flying-bat cookie cutter that way last Samhain, as well.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 31st, 2016 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: the art of food

:D Sales are awesome.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2014 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

A tuna can makes a great blank for cookie cutters. Turning it into a flower is pretty simple. Any basic geometric shape -- square, triangle, etc. -- is also easy. For something as intricate as a picket fence, you'd need copper.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: April 6th, 2014 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
"only that you find people to live with
who love you as you are."

Heck yes!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 6th, 2014 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm glad you like this.
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: April 7th, 2014 09:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay, it got sponsored! :D I enjoyed this one immensely.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2014 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you had fun with this.
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