Poetry by Elizabeth Vrenios


Practice makes perfect

mother intoned,
thumping time on the side of the piano
with her ruler
while I struggled at the keys.
So I practiced the art of magic
(deception, we shall call it)
like turning water to ice under a silk scarf,
and coaxing my mad dogs under the table
to silence their whimper.
They, accustomed to spaces
dark and deep, began to sleep.

Once in a dream
I carried a dead child on my shoulders
as I crept down the night hall
to the stygian mirror, expecting to see
a snarling beast with plundered eyes,
but there was no image
in the silvered shadows.
The hair on the backs of the dogs
began to rise.

I learned that practice makes
While I practiced the art of the silk scarf,
and perfected the image of coolness,
the mad dogs rose, growled
and shook their chains.



Avgolemono Soup

2 quarts chicken broth
1/2 cup rice
4 - 6 eggs (one egg for each person and one for the pot)
juice of 2 lemons

Cook rice in the chicken broth until done (about 15 minutes). Separate the eggs, beating the egg whites until fluffy (but not dry). Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating constantly. Slowly add the lemon juice as you beat (a tsp at a time). Last, add the broth to the mixture very slowly while you continue to beat the mixture. Mix with the rice and serve with plenty of bread and wine.

Our sorrow
which has been beyond softness
and hunger
and has been too deep to swallow
longed for the taste of avgolemono soup,
to feel inside the deep scour of lemon
gleaming and acrid.

My hands, heavy as prayers
divide the yolks from the whites,
the stirring spoon, a silver sigh.
But I cannot forget
my own son's freshly broken body
as if I had spent the whole day
on my hands and knees
crawling through the hours.

Yet, somehow, tonight,
this difficult task
works its way by accident
to perfection.
Our table set for four,
contains an empty bowl,
for we agree he is
with us still,
lucent in our spoons.

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Ms Kirkpatrick Vrenios received an award from Yellow Chair Review for her chapbook, Special Delivery, and has had poems published in various anthologies including Stories of Music, Love Notes from Humanity: The Love, Lust and Lost collection, A Kind of Hurricane Press: Happy Holidays and Poeming Pidgeon:Poems about Food, and in print and online journals such as Clementine, Kentucky Review, Unsplendid, Scissors and Spackle, Mocking Heart Press, Noble Gas Quarterly, The Hollins Critic, Folliate Oak and Cumberland River Review. She is a Professor Emerita from American University, is artistic director of the Redwoods Opera in Mendocino, California, and has spent most of her life performing as a singing artist across Europe and the United States.