Wednesday, February 19, 2014

kitchen light

When I Am in the Kitchen

I think about the past. I empty the ice-cube trays
crack crack cracking like bones, and I think
of decades of ice cubes and of John Cheever,
of Anne Sexton making cocktails, of decades
of cocktail parties, and it feels suddenly far
too lonely at my counter. Although I have on hooks
nearby the embroidered apron of my friend's
grandmother and one my mother made for me
for Christmas 30 years ago with gingham I had
coveted through my childhood. In my kitchen
I wield my great aunt's sturdy black-handled
soup ladle and spatula, and when I pull out
the drawer, like one in a morgue, I visit
the silverware of my husband's grandparents.
We never met, but I place this in my mouth
every day and keep it polished out of duty.
In the cabinets I find my godmother's
teapot, my mother's Cambridge glass goblets,
my mother-in-law's Franciscan plates, and here
is the cutting board my first husband parqueted
and two potholders I wove in grade school.
Oh the past is too much with me in the kitchen,
where I open the vintage metal recipe box,
robin's egg blue in its interior, to uncover
the card for Waffles, writ in my father's hand
reaching out from the grave to guide me
from the beginning, "sift and mix dry ingredients"
with his note that this makes "3 waffles in our
large pan" and around that our an unbearable
round stain—of egg yolk or melted butter?—
that once defined a world.

As far as I'm concerned there aren't enough poems written about the kitchen, though poems are most certainly being written in kitchens all the time. So, I went searching for kitchen poems and found one by a poet I'd not heard of, Jeanne Marie Beaumont. Her website is here. This is one of the delights of keeping a blog - finding new poets, new poems.

The kitchen is full of memories which very often do define our world.

So, the daylight is now lasting nearly until dinner. Nearly! Made one of my standbys on the weekend - the slow simmered pasta sauce. Spicy and comforting.

Earlier in the day, a banana bread with chocolate chips tossed in. And the light then! Fantastic.

I couldn't get enough of the light. Catch it while it lasts, right?

It even made the dishes, drying in the sink, look lovely.


  1. Your kitchen is filled with such beautiful light...and I can imagine it smells so wonderful! As far as I'm concerned, the kitchen is the center of the universe!

    1. Some days yes, some days, no :) haha. But I try my best.

  2. I have to agree with Susan here. The kitchen is definitely the "hub" in our house.
    I never thought about it, but it's true. Sadly, not many things written about kitchens.
    Hmmmm...inspiration. :-)

  3. Another kitchen poem/poet for you: Catherine Moss's "Tri-Fruit Marmalade" in Swallowing My Mother (Frontenac, 2001).

    "pad the house with February fog...
    fill the kitchen with gusts of oranges
    and occasional light lemons"

    In another Moss poem (though I can't lay my hands on it), she eats mangos at the kitchen sink. Where is that poem? I could use a little Gauguin-orange on this dull February day.


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