My mouth won’t ever forget her skill with a skillet,
my father’s mother, cooking
with her mother’s skillet.
Looking deep into its heavy antique mirror, I see
her wedding day: white dress
and this coal-dark skillet.
Heaven was bacon’s sizzle waking my ears and nose.
Or was it one of her chickens
slow-frying in the skillet?
Her husband once took it hunting without asking:
she said she’d bust his skull
with that upraised skillet.
Fire-born bell whose clapper was a plain dinner fork,
juicy fauna and flora notes
rang out from her skillet.
I see early widowhood, cooked-for children gone:
darkness lends its seasoning
to every cast-iron skillet.
She hid its teardrop handle inside her strong grip
when pouring red-eye gravy
from one lip of the skillet.
What went into the oven as batter we two mixed
came out as cornbread glory,
steaming amen in a skillet.
Black as her Bible, black as her once-maiden hair,
black as a panther howling
at midnight, this skillet.
I see her funeral day, the kitchen filled with food
not made by her, no flame
kissing the empty skillet.
I say McFee into its circle, hear her savory voice
giving back the family name
from her (now my) skillet.