jillypoet: mom trying to write

Each day I wish I had invented waterproof sticky notes (for shower inspiration) or pen-friendly diapers to get down all my quirky thoughts that I am sure are relevant and publishable. And so God (actually another writer-mommy) sent me The Blog.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

On the Day the Wife Gave Up Cooking


On the Day the Wife Gave Up Cooking

There are four basic principles that should not be overlooked in cooking any dish—proper and accurate measurements; proper cooking temperature, proper length of cooking time and proper time of serving.
-Duncan Hines from Adventures in Good Cooking and the Art of Carving in the Home (c. 1939)


Food is all mathematics, Betty Crocker and her kind
tell me, an artist at heart. Still, I stray from the stove
one minute too long, boil the two-thirds cup milk over,
follow a flash of ruby wings outside the kitchen window
add three cups flour, harden a reputedly moist red velvet cake.

If you can read, you can cook, my mother tells me,
stroking my poet’s soul. Pare, blanch, fold in, try out.
The words take me on a journey far from my milky mess.
Strain, sieve, sift, simmer. I truly believe a watched pot
never boils. I do not watch. I do not watch.

Pears, peaches, plums, potatoes. I bake a poet’s potluck
no-one dares touch. It’s all so simple with a head for numbers.
Twenty-two wafers equals one cup crumbs. Sugar.
Brown, light or dark. Teaspoon, tablespoon. Squash, strawberries,
split green peas. Dessert even the neighbor’s dog will not eat.

The fly in the rice is this: I want to cook like I live.
I want to curry with abandon. Salt and pepper to taste,
to taste. Stand for hours under the scrub pine, palms full
of chokeberries, waiting for the chickadees, all the while
breathing in the forbidden curl of burning roast turkey.

I want to flirt with the young butcher.
While away the hours batting my eyes, asking
How big the roast? How fat the pan? How sharp is that knife?
Pay him to bone two pieces of meat, roll and tie them together.
Stroll home with his meat under my arm, and serve salad from a bag.

Truth is, if I were a bird, a robin or cardinal, I would not have to measure
my food, no cups, no quarts, no gallons, no liters. If I were a poem,
another master would measure my words, weigh my meter, scan
my rhyme. So on this day, in this kitchen, I will peel away my layers,
remove my core, hang my skin from a hook in the ceiling to dry.

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15 Comments:

Blogger twilightspider said...

This is fantastic. The entertwining of math and cooking and writing - your alliterations are lovely and the flitting of your attention from subject to subject is just perfect.

I feel the same way about cooking - it's one of my greatest weaknesses. If only I could cook with the flair that you write with!

4:30 PM  
Blogger Poet with a Day Job said...

So wonderful, and what a great pic to boot. I love your voice and style: very strong, very fresh. Nice work!

5:02 PM  
Blogger pepektheassassin said...

jilly I LOVE your poetry! What more can I say?--I agree, I love your voice and style. 'Sfine!

6:53 PM  
Blogger Carolee said...

will you never get tired of me bowing down in reverence to your poetry. math and cooking and poetry. IN ONE POEM? you did it! i love--always--how you synthesize so much sound and texture and imagery with a sense of wonder AND matter-of-factedness. (for the record, "factedness" is a word. websters accidentally left it out, but it's in the addendum called "words only Carolee knows.")

8:50 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

this is fantastic!!! As someone who is averse to both math and cooking, this totally resonated with me. The cooking how you live section of the poem makes it for me, wild and daring and funny. Well done!

9:56 PM  
Blogger ecm said...

I really like how you made the connection to cooking...great mathematical connection. Great poem!

10:21 PM  
Blogger deirdre said...

I love the flow of this, the way the words repeat with rythym. And it says what I love about making soup - no measuring, just adding and mixing with abandon, and somehow, it turns out right.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Regina Clare Jane said...

Yes, it's all in the flow here that is so delicious! Wonderful, Jilly! I love the stanza about flirting with the butcher! I mean, who hasn't done that?!

11:25 PM  
Blogger ann said...

thank you so much for visiting me... I appreciate your comment

this is good... I love it, the equation between maths and the kitchen. You said on my blog so many maths poems tied in with love... so does this one. Don't they say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach? LOL

3:50 AM  
Blogger Crafty Green Poet said...

It's the bane of my life how much maths is needed in cooking! I really enjoyed your poem!

4:35 AM  
Blogger G said...

Your voice is musical, lyrical, whimsical. Lovely poem, girl.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Dennis said...

Always fun and always a treat! So nice what you did with the prompt! I enjoyed this. Thanks

5:08 PM  
Blogger Shelley said...

Jill, I am swooning over the specificity of this... bless you for holding all these yummy nouns up in the light!

Rocket!

11:08 PM  
Blogger gautami tripathy said...

Now this I call inguenity. Amazing!

gautami.
Do chk my post...Straight Curves.

3:50 AM  
Blogger .......deb said...

I adore this poem, and the introduction.

The distraction of life is remarkable. The pairing of live with cooked birds. Yea! The music, the fantasy with the young butcher. More yeas.

8:08 PM  

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