by Jessica Evans
Dogeared and worn, a copy of The Lover, famed photograph missing; young handwriting annotations in faded orange and pinks, a sunset of a heart.
Lemon bars arranged like wheel spokes radiating out like rays, made with Sylvia’s citrus liqueur, which takes her long to age than it does to prepare, information she chirps loudly at monthly library board meetings; when eaten on an empty stomach are boozy enough.
The Cultural Implications of the Name Natasha, a memoir, the cover featuring a faded photograph of 1962 Moscow, an author’s missive of chasing her own beginnings through ended Soviet republics; spoiler: it ends with the author nestled back home in Cleveland, no closer to her blood family than when she started and no happier than her babayshka told her she would be when she set out on the trek.
Golden raisin walnut cookies made with freshly milled flax and non-GMO amaranth, grains that Louise says are ancient even though she doesn’t know what that means as she sips her seven dollar matcha latte made with carrageenan and other carcinogens but that she drinks because it’s trendy and social media told her of some unfounded claims that matcha is the best tea to drink when really there’s just a glut of it available on the market.
Folk Tales from Albania and Elsewhere, hard-backed copy of oral histories compiled and recorded by a self-assuming woman at the fall of communism when she was sure her knowledge and her education would help rescue those backward people from Albania, that her diploma might somehow create the opportunities for entering villages closed for fifty years and uncover the core truth of what it means to by Shqiptar – self-reliance, a hefty dose of pessimism and the unique brand of fear that comes from never exploring the unknown, illustrations covered with thin onionskin paper.
Jean Marie’s black bean brownies, the beans folded in to offset the sugar and do something different with the breakdown of the carbohydrates, applesauce as a replacement for eggs, cuts into two-dimensional pyramids, edges soft and unscalable, the kind of offset angles that will never form back together, the bright blue plate arranged just so; take the first piece, Jean Marie urges, books are for sale, but the snacks are free.
Kitchen Tales from Denmark, all glossy food photographs before Instagram was the place for that kind of media, its author a self-professed reclaimer of the land who only wants to tend her chickens, raise her children, reimagine how to feed them with backwoods lay of the land recipes for reindeer her grandmother’s grandmother gifted, kitchen magic once held so dear but has now sold because needs must.
Natasha’s own blini, filled with black currant jam, just like the internet taught her, rolled and fanned out, an offering, a request, a forgiveness that she might ever discover her own origin story like in the comic books, some history to hold onto.
Adé, Rebecca Walker’s missive, the way heart memory bends against the pull of the truth and all that’s left is an offering fanned out on the table.
Jessica Evans writes from Arlington, VA. She is the EIC for Twin Pies, poetry editor for Dress Blues, prose editor for Knight’s Library, and serves as a mentor for Veteran’s Writing Project. Work is forthcoming in LEON Literary Review, Typehouse, Louisiana Literature, and elsewhere. Connect with her on Twitter @jesssica__evans