The Precious, Cool Nostalgia

Hidden in a tin

In the back of the heart pine cabinet.

Its little black latch a trial for pudgy fingers, were

Valentine’s Day cookie cutters—

Only two.

(It was the 1970s. Before the excess.)

One small tin heart, plain.

One, a pink polyresin press, with its mirrored “Be Mine.”

The old-enough cousins

With their gleaming hands—

nails scrubbed brusquely by a grandma on a mission—

Dipped into the dough.

Rolled and pressed, pressed again

Into the yellow Formica countertops

Until it was time to cut and trim. To bake and eat.

(The cooling was, of course, the hardest part.

The wait before the pleasure.)

 

She hated to cook.

She hated baking most of all.

But made the shopping list.

Put on her plastic rain bonnet,

Tied it just so, every hair covered.

Drove to the grocery store for

Fresh eggs. Real butter.

At home, she unearthed the cookie cutters

To make our eleven memories.

All we had heard–in passing–

“Mother hates cooking.”

 

We never understood until

We owned our own kitchens

With our own pots,

Familiar and resented.

 

It is a chore, this cooking.

(We all eat 1,996 pounds of food

A year.  If half is at home,

We nevertheless lug tons.)

 

We chop the onions.

Brown the meat.

For all the Wrong Tacos.

And cook the Regrettable Bacon

(And this is only today.)

 

We serve stuffed shells with pride.

Slide salmon loaf in the trash,

Having met the requirements.

Our duties fulfilled. The Mouths fed.

 

It will be years before they want my

Cast iron skillet.

And miss Saturday’s predictable tacos.

 

They will then taste a longing,

For memorialized meals.

As they stand alone in their kitchens,

Compressing their hearts

For all the right reasons,

These daughters of mine,

Who have had Their Pleasure.

 

 

 

 

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