SOLC 2014: Poetry Friday

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I grew up next door to my grandmother and have many happy memories of hours spent at her house. Many of those hours were spent in her kitchen watching and helping her cook. So in January, when Mary Lee Hahn shared her poem “Recipe,” I was inspired to write a poem about my grandmother and her kitchen. A list of words and phrases grew, but I couldn’t seem to find a way to organize them.

A few days later, Tricia Stohr-Hunt challenged readers to write a pantoum in her Monday Poetry Stretch. As I read about the structure of pantoums, I began to see possibilities for a poem about my grandmother. Then Fran McVeigh shared memories of her grandmother for her Slice of Life Challenge post earlier this week, and her slice prompted me to go back and revise this poem.

These Recipes

These recipes you knew by heart,

kept safe within a wooden box:

Aunt Ella’s spice cake, Boston baked beans.

Written in your careful hand.

Kept safe within a wooden box,

the recipes of our lives,

written in your careful hand,

tell the story of a time gone by.

The recipes of our lives:

fresh peach jam for morning toast.

The story of a time gone by.

Holidays and birthdays, picnics on the lawn.

Fresh peach jam for morning toast,

Aunt Ella’s spice cake, Boston baked beans.

Holidays and birthdays, picnics on the lawn.

These recipes you knew by heart.

© Catherine Flynn, 2014

Thank you, as always, to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

UPDATED: My apologies to Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for not thanking her for hosting the Poetry Friday Round Up yesterday. It’s not too late to visit her and read all the wonderful poems shared there.

14 thoughts on “SOLC 2014: Poetry Friday

  1. Catherine,
    When my grandma came to our town she lived right behind us. She soon purchased a house a few blocks away. I spent countless hours with her and the stories stay close to my heart.

    I spent weeks each year with my other grandma. When I got married she gave me a recipe box. When I open it I always think of her kitchen and the “recipes of our lives.” The recipes seem to weave the stories inside and keep them bubbling to the surface. Your poem captures that.

    Thanks for making me smile this morning.



  2. “the story of a time gone by.

    The recipes of our lives:”

    What a lovely way to remember your aunt – and all the loving memories those recipes conjure up.


  3. OMG! This poem resonates for me in a big way — and not just because it’s about recipes and food. My Aunt Ella was the baker in our family — and she made peach jam and spice cake. 🙂 I have a few of her handwritten recipes in my collection which I’ll always cherish.


  4. Lovely poem. I especially like the pantoum style. This was always the first form of poetry I taught my students because its format was simple and easy for them to do. Unfortunately I don’t have any of my grandmother’s recipes, but I do have memories of her big, black coal stove and the smell of homemade bread filling not only her kitchen but the entire house.


  5. The structure placed the emphasis on those oh so important things, the recipes in ‘her careful hand’. Beautiful Catherine. So glad you worked out the poem to your liking, and captured this sweet memory.


  6. Luscious recipes passed down from one generation to the next are always the best, along with scents of memory passed down through those scribbled ingredients. 🙂


  7. Lovely! I’m glad mom’s Hamburger Cobbler gave this pantoum its start. It was the perfect form for your words!


  8. Isn’t it a wonderful community full of inspiration? I love hearing the story behind the creation of the poem.


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