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.