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.
Copyright © 2017 Michael McFee. From We Were Once Here (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2017) by Michael McFee. Used with permission of the author.
Michael McFee is the author of numerous poetry collections, including We Were Once Here (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2017). He lives in North Carolina.
Date Published: 2017-09-26
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/cast-iron-ghazal