The road out front is all torn up and has remained that way for a long time. One day they tractor-pulled the trunk of a fallen tree, its roots undone by the doings. Saw crews came in and buzzed for days like a disturbed hive. I could not save the flowers. Pyramids of pipe plastic appeared overnight. Rats, unsettled, bounced across the lawns, appalling the cats. All's ditches, trenches, ruts and pits. A week before the phones went dead, the sand trucks jilted their loads, shovels clanged, someone shouted Ho! ho! ho! like an unjollied Santa. Yellow cones mark off the area like quarantine. Red lights flash night and day. Goodness! The whole country detours around us. Each morning a colony of hardhats I observe from my upstairs window, handkerchief held to my nose, my ears stoppered with cotton and wax. Today, they were burning debris and circled the fire prodding like scouts. I regret I cannot make the ceremony, but clearly this is a major public project with extensive resources at its disposal and certain to benefit enormous numbers. It must be. I pray the food will last and look forward to vast and permanent improvement.
Jeanne Marie Beaumont
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.