When I boil those leftover bones
to loosen the flesh and eke out
every bit of gelatinous goodness
—the kitchen a damp, steamy womb of a place—
I feel like I’m part of the marrow of motherhood
answering the call of nature to nurture.
When I chop the carrots, onions
celery and cabbage, add the meat
scour the fridge for halves of potato, tomato,
tubs of leftover veggies, the cup of last week’s chili
add lentils and quinoa
season with bay leaf, basil, cumin and salt
I feel like the Proverbs woman
who brings her food from afar.
This is no Dickens gruel
grey, thin and greasy
or the meatless tin-bowl ration
of a concentration camp
but the savoury red pottage with which Jacob
lured Esau to trade his birthright
and I, the temptress, add soup
to my stock of quilts and afghans
knitted slippers and crusty breads
flannel sheets and apple pie
—the seductions of home.
About the ARtist
The painting, ‘Kiss Me and You’ll Kiss the ‘Lasses’ (Molasses)’ is by Lilly Martin Spencer in 1856 (Brooklyn Museum). Spencer was a wife and mother to 13, as well as a well-known painter and primary breadwinner (her husband gave up his career as a tailor to help with housework). They were said to be a very happy household, if unusual for the time. Spencer’s paintings are enthusiastic and joyful in their depictions of home life.