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—
(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.