kaldūnai

are mushroom dumplings
made of a very basic
but hardy
dough

3-1-1 says my mom
three cups flour
one cup water
one egg
knead together
adding water
one tbsp
at a time
don’t let get
too sticky

roll out
the dough
to a 1/8 inch thickness
and cut into
rounds using
the rim of a small
juice glass
about 2 inches
across

put on a large
pot of water
to boil
and
while the water
warms

sauté 3-4 cups
of mushrooms
in butter
your choice
look for wild varieties
at the market
or better yet

go into the forest
look for the
baravykas¬- king bolete
voveraitė– little squirrel
or lepeška- yellow chanterelle
pretend it is summer
nearing solstice
and all around
are Rasa goers
wearing wreath
headdresses
and picking wild herbs
and flowers
on their way to a nearby
meadow where a bonfire
and kupole await
an evening of dancing
twirling and song
imagine it is Jonines
your name day
the longest day
of the year
when the dew on
the earth after
a night of Pagan
celebration is cool
on your feet
and you are reborn
in a different time
on a different continent
and your dead grandparents
from the old world
are not just grandparents but
are Mociute and Tevukas
and their world is new
is fresh, like the memory
of your first Kucios
and how wonderful
and unique it was
to have family
recently descended
from another country
with traditions
much different from
familiar forms
like opening gifts
on Christmas eve
following a vegetarian
feast spread out upon
the delicate lace tablecloth
on the dining room table
before the painting of
the farm and pasture
that was their home
before the wars
before the Germans
and the Russians
and before my Mother
and Father
and before me

But remember
the mushrooms
the baravykas¬
voveraitė and lepeška
place your treasures
in a paper sack
or better yet,
wrap them in a handkerchief
that used to belong to Tevukas

and don’t forget
the water
now boiling

and drop the
kaldūnai
one by one
into the water
stirring so
the dough doesn’t stick
to the bottom
of the big pot
breathing steam
up into your face
and filling
the kitchen
with so much
more than just
water vapor

Lithuanian news
and music
on WJCU
playing through static
on the small radio
in the breakfast room
where we also
had lunch
and sometimes
dinner too

the room
large enough for
the table
six chairs
and little else
but the stand
on which sat
the radio
bringing a distant
world into
ours

in the kitchen
with the black
and white checkered
tiles and the gingerbread
man cookie jar
with a clock that
did not keep time
on his belly
I sat in the stool
with the fold-out
foot-rest
and listened
through the static
through the heavy accents
the broken English
and lapses into
Lithuanian
to their stories
of escape and war
and betrayal

Mociute
taught me how
to make many
Lithuanian dishes
and I hope
she can forgive
me from her
heavenly seat
for serving
kaldūnai
at a Russian potluck
and calling
them palmeni

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