PITE | ‘She can hear through the phone that it’s not right.’ Nora Selmani connects with her mother through the ritual of a recipe.
by Nora Selmani
i phone mum before i do anything.
she talks me through getting the dough right:
warm salt-water and flour.
she doesn’t work in measurements
so i throw in handfuls of flour
and hope it’s enough.
she can hear through the phone that it’s not right.
i promise to call her back.
the filling is the easy part.
chop and fry an onion,
adding spinach leaves and cottage cheese.
if it’s too thin add a pinch of flour and cool.
the dough swells under my touch, filling the gaps
between my fingers, pushing against my knuckles.
i appreciate the way it yields,
the sigh it lets out as i throw it
onto the counter top,
i divide it by thirty two,
rolling the smaller pieces between my palms
then kneading them individually.
mum calls this ‘collecting the belly button’.
i sing along to mum’s favourite song,
pinching the edges of the pastry together
and sliding it into the oven
and the house begins to smell familiar and full
Nora Selmani | @arbnoraselmani
Nora Selmani is currently studying for an MA in Comparative Literature at King’s College London. She is Arts co-editor at Porridge, a part-time witch interested in gender and diaspora, and a former academic publishing person. Her debut pamphlet ‘Portraits’ (2018) is available from Lumin. Her work has appeared in OCCULUM, Sea Foam, and Vagabond City Lit, amongst others.