Who Loves Cheese?

What is that one thing you always come back to? That one thing you can never not adore? For me, it’s cheese. Cheeeeeese.

I came up with this while playing around with poetry as short-form memoir during Creative Writing class.

Only Love Remains

How did we begin, my one true love? My passion for you endures unabated. I remember in the early days, a hastily ripped cardboard box, frantically searching for the indented foil seam and ripping back the shiny slick casing. Carefully fingering you onto my tongue as that first mouthful dissolved into creamy liquid that slid slowly down my throat. The melting plasticity of Velveeta cheese food product will always take me back to our first time. As Mom swirled Velveeta into hot elbow macaroni noodles in her blackened bottom pot, the liquid gold slithered through the curved tube creating a heavenly goo so runny it had to be eaten with a spoon.

Changing circumstances took their toll on our relationship over the years. An absent father with dark secrets coincided with subtle shifts in refrigerator contents. Slabs of dense government cheese-American, of course, Ronald Reagan’s gift to the Dairy Farmers of America, filled cheap bread several meals a day. My abandoned, anxiety-ridden mother despised my gluttony, hated me fat, but couldn’t stop me from eating. She had enough on her plate. Dad showed up long enough to forbid her from taking charity and then there was no cheese at all.

How I missed you.

Then, the joys of marriage and two modest incomes provided several packages a week where we could hide the knowledge that we had made a colossal mistake. What better way to fill the holes of missing pieces than with grated four cheese Mexican flavored topping.

Inevitably, backlash came in the form of self-imposed hungry years. Fat-free feta and scant sprinklings of parmesan marked by long periods of abstinence. I shunned you, please forgive me.

And now, now that we have reconnected, slim slices of Manchego and pungent veiny Amish bleu, artfully arranged with seasonal fruit and paired with a crisp Rosé fill my palate with undertones of bourgeoisie as we stroll into the sunset. I will never leave you again.

cheese

Mirror Mirror

Women who grab power, or try, are generally reviled or at least held in suspicion (see the day’s news for examples). Mistrusted. This was true throughout our long history, when stepmothers were always evil and maidens always powerless and pure. When independent or sexual women were accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake-that’s not some cute historical narrative-those women were murdered. Funny how the Brothers Grimm were writing their misogynistic tales full of violence toward women about the same time. And all the women and girls watching learned a powerful lesson. Namely, it’s safer to hide under the protection of a man, shut up and keep your head and skirts down. Ever wonder how those themes play out in society today?

Much serious scholarly research has already been done on this subject, but I have written an unserious poem about Snow White’s stepmother for an assignment in my creative writing class. (See also Forbidden Fruit) I know it’s not a serious poem because my professor told me it isn’t. Maybe that is why it was fun to write.

Here it is:

Dead Madonna

Her loving arms a memory now

An intruder’s face emerges in the

Mirror, Mirror on the wall

Who is the fairest of us all?

No longer you, faded queen

The Virgin waits with her little men

unsullied body

a heady cocktail

of youth and beauty

waits to quench the thirst of the prince.

She is the only draught worthy of rescue

Resignation to fate her only

hope of elevation

Attempting escape

Renders her attributes mute

Else she will fall

To the dark magic of assertion

The witchcraft of power

The banishment of desire

In that case

Boil her lungs and

boil her liver

Use plenty of salt

Set a place for one

Lips smacking

bloody in the middle 

Mirror Mirror…

Still the young one

Why is it only Witches

demand a place at the table?

And where is her father now?

He rides away with

a nudge and a wink

 and his men and his horses

pockets full of money and deeds

and larger concerns

And so I ask you

Do we write our stories or do the tales tell us?

P.S. My memoir, The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid, releases on April 4th! It is available for pre-order on Amazon now.

Words from Anneliese Kamola

My friend, Anneliese, has been in the writing trenches with me since I first showed up at The Narrative Project with a fistful of blog posts. Anneliese is a singular talent, in both writing and editing and… dare I say…. clairvoyance. That’s the only word that comes close to what she is able to do in a critique session. She read The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid for the first time in completed form.

Here’s what she had to say.

“Something magical happened in your book. Did you do this intentionally?? After the chapter ending where the Narrator says to herself, “I want a divorce from both of you,” the VOICE of the writing catches up with the Narrator’s voice of wisdom. I’ve been admiring how seamlessly the Narrator’s voice grows through this story. I was just reading a couple chapters further and thought, “Oh hold on, wait, when did she grow up all of a sudden?”

Whether you intentionally crafted this way or not, well done, Ronna. Gorgeous lesson in showing how creating wise boundaries propel growth and maturity in a super subtle way. I’ve been so engrossed in reading your book that I’ve been playing hooky from my editing, staying up until midnight, and carrying it with me in my purse. So good. I’ve already told several people that they have to read it.

That last chapter-where did it come from? I’m fucking sobbing.”

My heart is full of gratitude for Anneliese’s words, her help along the way, and her friendship most of all. She never once made me feel like I couldn’t do it. Also, keep your eyes open for Anneliese-her book is gonna blow your mind.

P.S. The picture is Violet the cat, not Anneliese.

Forbidden Fruit

I am the Serpent, I am I am

Now everyone knows that the serpent is more subtle than any beast which the Lord God made.

I am a beast I am I am

Which is what I’m thinking as I slither and slink like vapor through the bows of the bewitchment tree and smell the woman below

The scent of her innocence coats my tongue as I descend onto the soft curve of her bare shoulder

And I said to her I said have you tried all the fruit in the garden yet? Which one did the Lord God forbid?

Even though I already knew the answer.

And the woman she whispered against my scales she said we can eat all the fruit from any of the trees in the whole garden except this one right here. That Lord God guy-I think he owns the place-he said we can’t even touch these bananas or we’ll die.

And I said to the woman, I said Naaaah you’ll be fiiiiine. He just doesn’t wanna share. He knows your eyes will open up, you’ll seeeee stuff, man. You’ll know things just like the gods do. And the colors… you won’t believe your eyes. You’ll feel like you’re floating away. It’s a trip, man.

I headed back up to the branch with the low-hanging pretty, pretty golden pears and watched her eyes begin to gleam. She wanted it. The power and the colors and the floating. She wanted it, man. Her long, dirty fingers reached up and wrapped around the bulb of that shiny red apple and she plucked it right off the stem.

Then she snatched another one and ran off to find her old man, her greasy curls slapping against her back. Didn’t even say thanks. They came back for more in about two seconds. I knew that was a mistake but I wanted to see what was gonna happen so I looped around the skinny branches up in the sun, turned myself a bright sick citron and settled down to watch the show. They were rolling around in the grass, giggling, and slurping those purple plums, nectar dripping down their chins. They didn’t even have the smarts to hide-just ate ‘em right out in the open.

They were high as kites-barking like dogs and licking juice off each other. Then they started stringing together those giant fig leaves with these spiky little sticks they picked off a bush, making some kinda crazy pants. It was fucking hilarious.

And then, oh shit, all of a sudden we heard the voice of the Lord God. He was coming. Adam! Where the hell are you? He sounded pissed. They scrambled to hide but Adam chickened out and called, over here. I could practically feel the woman rolling her eyes.

They were right under me now so I stayed real still.

Then the Lord God saw their wonky aprons and went ballistic.

 And he said, who told thee that thou wast naked? You ate those bloody peaches I told you to leave alone, didn’t you?

 Adam sold Eve out immediately-what a douchebag. She gave ‘em to me, he whined.

So the Lord God whirled around on Eve all puffy like-I could see everything-and he hollered, what the hell, Eve? You had one rule.

And then-you won’t believe this-she blamed ME like I made her do it. The serpent tricked me-he said it was okay, she blubbered.

Unbelievable.

And the Lord God looked straight up at me like he knew I was there the whole time-super creepy-and he’s so mad he’s screaming now and he said to me he said this is all your fault! You are fucking CURSED from now on, even more than the cattle, even more than all the other beasts! I am NEVER gonna let you grow legs and you can eat dirt, man. I am gonna make Eve hate you and her kids are gonna hate you and they will kick you in the head every chance they get forever and ever.

He was out of control. I got the hell out there-just launched myself into the next tree and got out of that fucking garden before the lightning bolts started flying. I don’t know what happened after that.