“The kitchen is where we deal with the elements of the universe. It is where we come to understand our past and ourselves.” ~ Laura Esquivel
Which room in your house says the most about you?
THE YELLOW HOUSE, 1978
by Maggie Dietz
The kitchen in the house had a nook for eating, a groove
for the broom behind the door and the woman moved through
it like bathing, reaching ladles from drawers, turning to lift
the milk from the refrigerator while still stirring the pudding,
as if the room and everything in it were as intimate to her as her body, as beautiful and worthy of her attention as the elbows
which each day she soothed with rose lotion or the white legs
she lifted, again and again, in turn, while watching television.
To be in that room must be what it was like to be the man
next to her at night, or the child who, at six o’clock had stood
close enough to smell the wool of her sweater through the steam,
and later, at the goodnight kiss, could breathe the flavor of her hair —
codfish and broccoli — and taste the coffee, which was darkness
on her lips, and listen then from upstairs to the water running
down, the mattress drifting down the river, a pale moonmark
on the floor, and hear the clink of silverware — the stars, their distant
speaking — and picture the ceiling — the back of a woman kneeling,
covering the heart and holding up the bed and roof and cooling sky.
The kitchen (no surprise) is my favorite room in the house, with the dining room a close second. Someone wise once said that the kitchen is the heart of the home — so very true. It’s the place where family and guests gather most often, where delicious dishes (and sometimes ingenious ideas) are cooked up, where news of the day is shared, where we read our mail and shine our shoes.
It’s a place of culinary triumph and catastrophe, of hopes, laughter, test runs, and occasionally, bravery (yikes, yeast!). Whenever I make one of my mother’s or aunt’s recipes, I hear their voices cheering me on. I’m grateful for good times past, and the chance to make some new memories steeped in their legacies.
I have a particular fondness for our current kitchen because it’s the first one I designed myself from scratch. Nothing fancy, mind you, but much thought was given to work stations, varying counter heights, storage spaces, ease of maintenance, how I envisioned myself “moving” in the room. The maple cabinets are sage green and pale yellow milk paint, the island is natural cherry, and we have a black and white checkered floor (much like what’s pictured in Deborah DeWit’s painting).
But it’s not only my kitchen — I like yours too. If I visited your house, it would be the room I would be most curious to see, because it would tell me the most about you. 🙂
The first two stanzas of Maggie Dietz’s poem drew me in right away. I do think most women — at least the ones who like to cook — have an intimate knowledge of almost every square inch of their kitchens. When they’re totally “in the flow” of cooking (which sometimes requires improvisation) or baking (with its streamlined precision), there’s a beautiful brand of zen to speak of. I appreciate the nod to domesticity in an age when women are expected to do it all.
I love all the telling, sensory details in Dietz’s poem, from the pudding stirring to the child smelling the “codfish and broccoli” flavor of the woman’s hair, to the “clink of silverware,” to the final image of “the back of a woman kneeling,/covering the heart and holding up the bed and roof and cooling sky.”
I like thinking that a favorite room is an extension of self, a reflection of personality. Here’s to thriving in one’s element, feeling empowered by it. There’s definitely something golden about being the mistress of one’s domain, wherever that may be.
What struck you most about this poem?
📕 BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNERS! 📗
*rubs hands together*
We are doubly excited because we have two winners to announce today!
Thanks to everyone for entering and leaving such nice comments at both posts. 🙂
Are you ready?
*drum roll, please*
For a signed copy of THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH, the winner is:
🐊 AMY MERRILL at Mrs. Merrill’s Book Break!! 🐊
And the winner of a brand new copy of HOME BUILDERS is:
ELIZABETH C. at Literature and Limes!!
CONGRATULATIONS AMY AND ELIZABETH!!
♥️ Big thanks to B.J. Lee for donating a signed copy of her new Gator book, and to Penguin/Random House for a brand new copy of Home Builders.
The lovely and talented Jone MacCulloch is hosting the Roundup at Check It Out. Mosey on over for the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Have a nice weekend!
Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.