27) Healthy Pastry

By Manuel Royal
May 28, 2020 · 992 words · 4 minutes

[The Pfeffer Nuts Doughnut Shop operated on Pseudo-Martyr Street in midtown Donnetown from 1992 to 2003.  For its grand opening, the proprietor, Joos Pfeffer, sponsored a contest for pastry-related poems.

There were only two entries.  The winning poem, entitled "Donuts Go Nuts!", was submitted by 12-year-old Maurice Bundt, who received, and devoured, a free doughnut every day the store was open for its entire existence as a business.

The other entry was sent anonymously and thereby rendered ineligible, but was printed in its entirety in the Dairy & Baked Goods section of the September 20, 1992 edition of the Donnetown Daily Elegy.]

Healthy Pastry

Heaved myself up, unbeached my carcass from the old overstuffed and

Forced myself out the house to take a fucking walk.

Saw a shop I never saw before, and a

Sign, wooden sign, Oldy Timey script, just:

Healthy Pastry.

Boutiquey, boutiquish-looking, so's one looks to see a simpering pun of a name, but no, just:

Healthy Pastry.

--Healthy?  Bullshit, says I, but in I went, and

They were nice, the people there, and they showed me 'round and

There before me, oh,

Shelves of delight, stacked racks, golden flaky crusts and crusty flakey gold, oh and

An orchard, a very orchard, Mister, of aroma.

Perfect yeasty ascension fresh in every inhale and

Flavors in the air I couldn't name, and Sweet Jesus how are they all still warm, oven warm!

Samples crammed in my willing mouth proved the scent was merest hint of a

Taste of Heaven and a Platonic ideal of cream erupting right in my mouth, and

Layers within layers like ranks of a-choiring angels, each layer holding crisp but then ahhhh

Melting like a dream my tongue just had.

--Bugger me sideways, says I.

--Fuck the diet, these people say it's healthy I believe them.  So good.

Three years gone by now, and I been every day,

Healthy Pastry,

Stuffing my maw and it never stops being good and

Whether in truth and in fact it is healthy I don't know, 'cause

I don't live in truth and in fact, no Mister I live in a house with no fucking mirrors.

Ask me why no mirrors, I say 'cause it's not about me.

They're nice at Healthy Pastry always nice and one day they let me look in the back and

No flour no sugar no shortening no oven, so--


Simple they say each Healthy Pastry item is in fact a very large--

I think I hear "single-souled" but then they say, specifically--

That delicious Eclair is a, well, a--

Prokaryote of unusual size.  Unusual.  An unusually macroish microorganism.

Bacterium or Araeum, hard to tell once baked--

Its creamy innards a smooth cyoplasmic mass.

Uniquely unicellular.

--Even yon mouth-ravishing fruit turnovers?  I ask.

Protozoa, filled aburstin' with tiny organelles popping on one's tongue,

DNA nucleus crunchy like pine nuts, and

Those plump red currants?  Mitochondria.  They're good for you, they say.

Fritters?  They are amoeba.  So simple, so damn good with morning coffee.

--How?  Ask I once more, regarding this time the absence of an oven.


Each--ah--pastry is ... harvested, they say.  Harvested wriggly, harvested healthy--

(They say healthy a lot at Healthy Pastry, it's like a religious thing I just now notice)

So, they say, we have, say a healthy--pastry, ah, thing and we

Take the thing and make it feel loved, right.

Loved and special and safe.  Like if you ever felt that way even one time, you know what it is.

Awash in love, yeah, a-basking in that glow, tender devotion & all.

Long enough to maybe believe it.

Then, they say --

Well, we just take the love away.

And the thing doesn't know what it did wrong and it

Grows feverish thinking in circles and the fever never breaks and

Each thing, each thing, in its fever, it--

Bakes itself.

To a doneness.  In like a minute.

Cilia crisping away and semipermeable cell membrane golden-brown, mmm yes and

If you eat it still warm its soul slides straight down your gullet.

They say.

Single-souled.  One good mouth-filling soul.  So good.

But plain old people, now, they say

(Yes they tell me all this, the Healthy Pastry crew, they won't stop talking now the cat's out)

People now, Sir, they have many souls, many apiece, lotsa itty souls, itty bitty but only

In the cardiac muscles, the fibers, the very heartstrings.  The old love-a-dub, you see?

Soulful cardiomyocytes by the millions.  At birth, that is, they say.

In the babyhood.  Brand-spanking, yes, but, but--

Thereafter, soon after, the wee little souls die off, continuous,

Bit by bit by cell by mitosis by merciless time--

And by 40 years of age.  Or so.  They are gone.  Leaving us.  Leaving: Us.

Soulless we.  We the dear departed, Sir.

Jesus F., how to follow that, right?

--So (say I) ... That there pastry, then, I ask ... Is it healthy for real, ask I?

Well Sir, it was when it got here.

--Something, I said, oh, something


--Well, some ... thing must be done, this is a -- oh but this is a sin, I am sure?

Oh, Sir.  What a little word to make a fuss over.  And you with such a tooth for the pastry.

Won't you look at this sweet beignet?

Pooft!  Powdered sugar in my face, eyes snapped shut!

Eyes sprung open, staring shocked in my sugared face, mimelike white and aptly silent because

I see I stand alone upon an empty plot,
A vacant lot,
A voidy shop-sized square of ground.  Layer of ash dusted all over like sugar.

And a sign.

Sign says:

Formerly Healthy Pastry.

And I think they've corrected it in regards to descriptive properties but

Then I think not.

I think I gained a fifty-weight of blubber and

I think I lost something I can't see how to put a number to and I think

The whole goddamn world's a bathroom scale can't wait to weigh me.