The Gingerbread House

Alone there;
My parents out shopping.
I admire my handiwork;
It sat in the front room,
alone there with me,
on a white paper plate.

The teacher gave us
graham crackers,
instead of gingerbread;
We glued them down to all
flat sides of our milk cartons.
The cement frosting cracked,
hardening around every gum drop,
candy cane, and chocolate mint.

“This wasn’t good,” I thought,
peeling off a line of liquorices.
“It could be so much better. This—
isn’t even real gingerbread.”
Here I was; my first real lesson
in how the world works.

I asked mom, when she came back,
in her big red coat and fake fur hood;
“Can we make real gingerbread, mom?”

“Of course we can,” she said, while
clearing off the kitchen counter
of a plastic poinsettia centerpiece.
Mom was allergic to smells— so yeah,
even our Christmas tree was made in China.

Mom got down her recipes and we made
gingerbread that night. But this wasn’t real—
It was gluten-free; Just another imitation.
It seemed I would be locked in a world of
make-believe for at least another decade;
Insuring that by the time I rose into a man,
who came to terms that I never had any
real allergy, whatsoever—
There would be nothing cookie cutter
about the shape of my childhood, by then.

So even if my house of gingerbread—
wasn’t real, or at least not like
the store-bought the other kids had—
at least that house would give me
something real—
to write about; some years later.

In the mean time, I had to accept
that gluten free food always seemed
to crumble.
And that’s exactly what happened
to that house—
mom wrote the recipe for.
It all fell apart.
But picking up the pieces,
it was still just as sweet.
And that’s all that really matters,
all these years later.

written on 12/13/2010 by: Matt Kane