In cooking classes we made everything
from scratch, including custard–
it all had to he perfect: measurements,
mixing, decorative icing gently squeezed
through stainless steel nozzles,
challenging and not my forte.
Sister Joseph, nurturing a
huntsman spider on the window,
gently admonished us if we made mistakes.
I loathed home science and domestic subjects
but have made desserts
from these ancient exercise books—
the only things kept from school days—
rice puddings, scones, lemon butter,
Anzac biscuits with malt
not golden syrup, handfuls of sultanas.
Scrolling through pages,
a way of life long since gone,
I salivate over names reading like a litany of excess.
When my kids were small I made
toffee apples and chocolate crackles
from books disintegrating not just with age but from providing
nourishment for baby cockroaches
enthusiastically chewing through paper
redolent with strawberry cream biscuits,
jam rolls and steamed date puddings—
their version of heaven.