Father plastered newspapers on the cold drafty attic walls. Mixed flour with water. Layers and layers of fifties Quebec news. Rue Rachel beneath the Mount Royal cross. Salt trucks prowling icy roads. They had quarreled, father and his younger brother Willy. Our guarantor. Three months in Canada.
Tall, gawky thirteen year old. Hair tied back into a ponytail. I worked in father’s bakery. Peeled potatoes for potato bread. Melted dark chocolate. Washed copper pots and whisks and baking sheets. Swept wide-plank oak floors. Cold water white porcelain sink.
A steep ladder took us upstairs to the attic. Old mattresses. Duck down feather beds and pillows grandmother Kisanyuka had sewn by hand. A family of seven, four daughters and one son, ages six to thirteen. Budapest war refugees from Bavaria. We are not yet in school.
On des Érables in the gravel bakery yard. Leafless maple trees. Pale yellow sunshine melting snow. Icicles dripping. There on a rickety wooden table near the gate, father set up a sidewalk stand. Fresh round unwrapped loaves. One dollar for potato bread. “Ca coûte trop cher!” “I am not making money,” father finally said.
Father, a cukrász, made fine chocolates. He dipped pralines and painted marzipan fruits. Apples, peaches, bananas. Rich pastries. Baked Dobos torte. Chocolate rabbits wrapped in cellophane tied with red ribbons. Delivered them by streetcar to Hungarian pastry shops on Queen Mary Road. I helped apu carry the carton boxes.
Homemade potato bread – Wikipedia Creative Commons
Guest Author Bio
Ilona Martonfi Author of two poetry books, Blue Poppy, (Coracle Press, 2009.) Black Grass, (Broken Rules Press 2012). Published in Vallum, Accenti, The Fiddlehead, Serai. Founder/producer of The Yellow Door and Visual Arts Centre Readings, co-founder of Lovers and Others. QWF 2010 Community Award.
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