Interpretation by Judy Krohn
This week’s blog is courtesy of “Thank God it’s Not Friday” poem interpreter, Judy Krohn. For those of you who know Chef Judy, the fact that a food poem found her proves once again that serendipity was at work during my random choosing process almost a year ago. For those of you who don’t know Chef Judy, well, I’m sorry because you’ve missed out on some pretty good tastebud parties. But you can get to know her a little bit here as she tells, “The Rest of the Story.” Enjoy and TGINF. —Michelle
Well of course, I was going to make a tuna sandwich—the most beautiful looking, cooking- magazine-worthy, mouthwatering creation that anyone could imagine. A pretty plate, sliced garden tomatoes, crisp lettuce, a house-made pickle on the side. I had everything I needed on hand, except for the usually-expected white sandwich bread. No dowdy, homemade, hole-y sourdough slices would do.
Lightbulb moment: I recently learned that Julia Child liked to prepare her open-faced tuna sandwiches on English muffins. And I have English muffins in the freezer—Eureka!! Now, off to gather the remaining “ingredients” to complete my assignment.
Who is “She”? She’s very old, very Catholic, accustomed to regularity. But with a streak of stubbornness. I traveled throughout the house, looking for items that could help tell her story.
A large, old (1881) Bible came to mind. It was one of several things we acquired from the estate of an old family friend, “Aunt Hazel” (she wasn’t a relative, but a close friend of older family members). Hazel was a single child, very well off, never married, and—from tales told about her —rather suspicious, bitter, and definitely stubborn.
Dust off that bible and discover all the forgotten treasures we’d hidden inside: a few child’s drawings, newspaper clippings, 4-leaf clovers and pressed flowers, the names, along with the names, birth & death dates of people we never knew. Open the book and lay out the relevant items on one side: the poem, a gold pocket watch (also from Hazel), a holy card from a friend’s sister’s funeral, the rosary is a memento from our daughter’s trip to Spain, a family photo that reminds me that I am not that far from being “very old” myself, the candleholder is a gift from a talented tinsmith friend.
The Bible falls open to the Book of Lamentations; there is much weeping and wailing about pain and loss therein. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that “She” may have dallied in this realm from time to time.
I select a colorful plate for the sandwich. But “She” has such contempt for the idea of a tuna fish sandwich; I don’t think “She” wouldn’t have taken the time or the trouble to make a beautiful sandwich for herself. She would follow her routine and religious teachings, and reluctantly consume an ordinary, uninteresting, white-bread tuna sandwich each Friday evening. I hope “She” would be delighted to know that Starkist now makes a tuna “creation” that tastes like bacon.*
The elements are collected; they are assembled on a bed tray and photographed on our 4- poster bed, yet another legacy from our “Aunt Hazel”. While my connection to religious practices and rituals is limited, it occurs to me that “my” poem happens to be quite relevant to this time of year, when many Western religions will celebrate “All Saints” and “All Souls” day.
Thank you, Michelle, for inviting me to be part of this project, for giving me the opportunity to travel through time and memory, to relate once again to objects neglected in the dusty corners of the house, and to become better acquainted with the person in your poem. And, thanks to all your talented friends who have both overawed & inspired me so far this year. I look forward— with relief— to the remaining weeks of this collective effort. Having now dismantled the image and put the objects away, I’m going to make—and enjoy— that beautiful tuna fish sandwich!
(* Spoiler alert—it doesn’t taste the least bit like bacon!!)