Before my parents moved
Their last move
It took them a year to sort through everything
Decades of things they couldn’t take with them.
Of course, some they could not relinquish
And why not? This life is still theirs.
But my mother’s recipe box
“You were never going to cook any of that stuff,”
Her words trembling with shock at the loss,
“But maybe it would have meant something to you anyway.”
The loss cruel
Because it was not lists of ingredients,
It was a scrapbook of time
Splashes and drops and stains from living moments
Smells and tastes, the scaffolding of our lives.
Scraps of handwriting
A fading script
(Annotations on a newspaper clipping)
Conjures shadows of other times
Evokes sunny family meals before life inflicted so many wounds and
More than 100 years in that box.
Dozens of people
Contributing muses to the culinary compositions of our shared lives.
A hundred casualties
Each one an unappreciated tether to generations before,
Death’s irrevocability echoes in this loss
Reverberating when she goes to her kitchen
Plans a meal.
We are in mourning:
The metaphoric demise
Of those we have held dear —
Their scraps of paper,
Littered with dribbles and spills
stained with use
Our last physical connection.
I do not tell her to build a new collection
Embark on the adventure of recreating favorite flavors and meals
That is not the point.
And so we keep watch
Mark the passing of something shared
And in my own kitchen,
Though none of the recipes are ones I would use
I wear the black apron
As I prepare the evening meal.