Cooking in the Kitchen with the Dog

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My wife doesn’t allow me

to watch her when she cooks.

The dog is her silent admirer,

sitting patiently for crumbs.

 

So much of it is filled with the

aroma of her mother, Geri’s  cooking,

the recipes etched in memory’s stone,

rituals not shared with a family of men.

 

The scent of garlic and onions,

meat sizzling in a hundred previous

kitchens for fathers waiting at long tables

makes me regret that I am just a man.

 

My mother, Elsi was a lousy cook,

and my tias knew it, consigning

her to wrap the twine around

pasteles in their banana leafs.

 

Where Geri passed down her recipes,

Elsi bequeathed me her heart and

compassion sautéed in bitter-sweet

sorrow dusted with ‘Rican seasoning.

 

I think she saved a pinch for Krissy,

for succor is her strongest flavor,

and I feed off it ravenously when

I need the strength.

 

The scent of spaghetti squash

roasting in the oven fills

my imagination with the need

to eat, live beyond just sustenance.

 

I crave to know the secret of her kitchen

but she brings the squash to me

on a plate hot around the edges

and we eat it, contentedly on the bed.

 

One day, I will sneak into the cocina

and maybe cook a picadillo finer than

her great creations, doing it

like all men, strictly by the recipe.

 

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