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When I Am in the Kitchen

Jeanne Marie Beaumont
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.

Copyright © 2010 by Jeanne Marie Beaumont. Used with permission of the author.

Jeanne Marie Beaumont

by this poet

poem
         				   (June 30, France)

i

I set the cookbook on fire 
by holding it close to the 
reading lamp
	

ii

I began the reading lamp fire 
by holding it close
to romance


iii

I lit the romance by 
holding it
close to the cookbook
poem
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