The Boston School of Cooking Cookbook

Image: Beth M. Howard
 (for Ruth McAdam)
 This is my mother's cookbook, its spine loose
with age, the fabric bare of colour at the seams
and weak, so it must be held tenderly, the way
my mother knows, easing into its pages
with her disobedient-knuckled hands.

This book is my mother's; she navigates
its mysteries with indifferent skill,
reads the runes of food-stains,
the faded trail of silverfish
who ate their random way over words;
she has the eye to decipher the tastes
of another time, scrawled
in the margins, invoking the power
of other kitchens, the fit of old aprons,
the shape of a family
swallowed into other lives.

This book's pages, furred with use
fade to brown. Its leaves have pressed
my mother's memories in perfect squares, the things
she needs concealed from time,
things she likes to come upon by chance:
household tips and obituaries, invitations
to weddings. My first poem is in there, and the card
someone made for mother's day. Sentiment
among the weeds of recipes she clipped
in more ambitious days
that crowd, untasted, between the even rows
of meals we chewed our way through
but never knew the names of, all those years'
worth of peeled vegetables and trimmed meat,
a lifetime's preparation vanished
into our waiting mouths.

~ Rhona McAdam

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