Poetry Friday: Healing Hands

Happy National Macaroni and Cheese Day! Last week, Tabatha Yeatts, today’s PF Roundup hostess, suggested we celebrate this delectable dish in verse. Coincidentally, I had just read Rita Dove’s prompt, “Your Mother’s Kitchen” in The Practice of Poetry. Dove directs writers to include “the oven… and also something green.”  My draft deviates from the instructions slightly by not including “something dead,” and not having a female relation “walk into the kitchen during the course of the poem.” My sister doesn’t like to cook and wouldn’t have been anywhere near the kitchen while my mother was cooking!

Healing Hands

My mother’s hands
were healing hands.
After standing all day
helping doctors stitch
broken bodies back together,
she came home to
tend and mend us.

When she was seven,
my sister suffered
from chronic strep.
Soft and smooth
on her raw throat,
my mother’s macaroni and cheese
was all she’d eat.

In the kitchen, my mother
gathered milk, butter, and cheese.
Velveeta was the cheese of choice.
She took the foil-wrapped
brick from its bright yellow box,
diced it into chunks.
Standing in front
of the avocado green stove,
she whisked the mornay sauce,
stirred until the liquid
was smooth and golden,
then poured it over
steaming macaroni
waiting in a pyrex dish.
Into the oven it went,
where it transformed into a
creamy, bubbling concoction.

To this day,
whenever I see a box of Velveeta,
I can taste the macaroni and cheese
my mother used to make
with her healing hands.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Of course I had to make a batch, just to make sure I had the details right. 😉


15 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Healing Hands

  1. Bravo! Ah, the avacado green stove….we had one too. And, I remember that my grandmother who was sick with cancer really loved my mom’s version of mac & cheese. Your poem brings back memories I forgot I had. Thank you! I need to use this one as a mentor text.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you made some! I’m wondering how many of the Poetry Friday crew (and blog readers) end up having MacCheese for tea this weekend. (And what wonderful memories you’ve captured of your mum.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a wonderful memory full of the senses and that mother’s touch. Wish I could share your mac & cheese. I’m afraid mine always came from the chemical-laced box. At least once a week I fed my crew poisonous Mac&Cheese.

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  4. A lovely tribute to your mother and her healing hands! Sounds like she never stopped tending and mending. I’m glad you went ahead and tested the recipe to make sure your poem was accurate 🙂

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  5. Catherine, you notice how I had to ditch most of Rita’s advice to get to my poem. I love how this dignifies Velveeta in the context of your mother’s care of other and of you. Your language is simple, clear and rhythmic, like stirring the mornay sauce. YUM!

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  6. All of the memories this prompt has unleashed are the true gold we’ve uncovered (whether it’s made with a brick of sharp cheddar or a brick of Velveeta)!

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  7. Catherine, this is a lovely relative poem. As I read it, I wondered how mac and cheese would make its way into your poem and then it did-silently, beautifully through the lens of healing hands. This poem was created with love and then, of course, a helping of mac and cheese was prepared for your look back into time. Avocado stove would have gone well with the golden rooster wallpaper I uncovered when we renovated our 1950’s home.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful, Catherine–you’ve mined your memory well. Love seeing the view of your mother’s hands.
    I haven’t thought about a brick of Velveeta cheese in many years! And oh, that avocado kitchen. All the rage when we were young. (The first house that my husband and I owned still had old avocado appliances…)


  9. This is beautiful! Isn’t it wonderful the way a sight, smell or sound can instantly fill us with so many memories? Alas my mother wasn’t much of a cook when I was young (all those night shifts), but there are still sounds and sights that immediately whisk my mind back in time!

    Liked by 1 person

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