Suzanne Lummis: a poem


Flour, Eggs, Milk, Baking Powder, Salt and God


O Best Beloved, tell me, if you know, why – the world over – when that woman bending toward the griddle, toward heat pushing through the a.m. chill, turns up a soft brown impression of an unshaven face surrounded by loose hair, why does she always think it's Jesus? And her proud, abruptly ennobled husband agrees, and her chattering neighbours – It’s him! A miracle! – as if they'd know that face anywhere. Beloved, take this instruction: don't believe all you hear. It could be Juan Ponce de Leon looking much as he did when he surveyed the fresh-growing land he'd name Pascua Florida, pointing – according to legend – his sharp little beard toward the Waters of Bimini, the "Fountain of Youth", searching not finding, but even his beard hard at work. Or – it could be his fellow Spaniard and relation, Rodrigo Ponce de Leon, The Marquez of Cadiz!

But if the outline of gently singed batter describes a head with luxurious gypsy curls and the artfully shaped beard and moustache of a man so careful with his looks he can afford to be careless with women,

oh that's Lindsey Buckingham! You know,

lead singer for Fleetwood Mac, just as he looked that madcap summer in L.A. when everyone was sleeping with everyone and getting divorced, and all of them, John and Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, inhaling, breathing cocaine, until it drifted from their garments like the sprinklings of Disney fairies. Damn, he was a handsome man. Those pancakes don't do him justice. But can we blame them, the folks who trudge home

each Sunday from the market lugging bags of onions,

potatoes, slabs of meat, flour – enough for one week –

eggs. They want Mystery, who doesn't? Sanctity.

A visitation. They want it for breakfast.

This morning, Beloved, while you lay still asleep, the batter dreamed against the deep cast iron griddle, against the bluing flames. I cooked a flat cake, then a second, a third, and, no, it was not the first one I prized, the one with the secretive smile, nor the one after that, whose eyes followed me around the room as I searched for the tub of butter whip. I enjoyed most that one on the bottom, the last and the least, unleavened, the truly mysterious pancake, the faceless one, with no expression at all.


Suzanne Lummis was a 2018/19 COLA (City of Los Angeles) fellow, an endowment from the Cultural Affairs Department that enables the city's influential mid-career artists and writers to create new bodies of work. Her most recent collection is Open 24 Hours from Lynx House Press, and her poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, Hotel Amerika, Plume, The New Yorker and in the Knopf anthologies Poems of the American West and Killer Verse: Poetry of Murder and Mayhem. Poetry.la produces her YouTube Series "They Write by Night" which looks at film noir and poets influenced by those black and white crime movies. As host of the series, she plays a character she describes as "Two thirds me and one third the person I was meant to be".