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.
Copyright © 2010 by Jeanne Marie Beaumont. Used with permission of the author.
Jeanne Marie Beaumont
Date Published: 2010-12-23
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/when-i-am-kitchen