Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Love Through Home Economics

On a sharp cold day, I crouched before the oven window watching
shrinky dinks curl into hard shells.
What we did with them, I have no idea
but the same cookie sheets then held the chocolate chip cookies you created, creamed into light brown dough then folded with the sweet, dark drops.
Don’t eat the raw cookie dough they said (whoever they are)–is this where I gained fear of salmonella?-- but you let us anyway.
Your act of rebellion?
(Or did my begging work (for once))

Winter of course meant warm radiators that raised homemade pizza dough into a pouf.
First you threw flour onto the counter then
mixed and kneaded the sticky dough, turning it over and pressing it down
over and down and over and down
until you plopped it (finally!) into a metal bowl, clean dish towel draped on top.
It sat on the radiator for hours.
You told us not to pick up the towel–it might fall!--but I always did.

Think about your frying pan popping with oil and dredged chicken,
turned crackly and delicious. Chicken dripped on paper towels as
you whipped potatoes for the side with big pats of butter
and plated green beans that we shoved under the table for the dog to eat.
Then the medical establishment (is that who “they” are?) turned against the delicious chicken
and it vanished.

I heard sewing shears clunk on the wooden board floated on top of your bed.
You collected paper pattern bags from Simplicity and Butterick.
McCall’s too but not Vogue. (Why never Vogue?)
I loved the smell of the new fabric and the sound of the shears and perched
on the side of the bed to see what would appear after your pinning and tucking.
You tried to teach me but I was an unwilling student, too impatient and anxious.
I feared you might one day swallow the needles and pins you stuck in your mouth.

Together we hunted for junior prom dresses in a neighbor state,
climbed creaky stairs to a store attic full of gowns for teenagers to pretend to be adults.
I picked a pink, strapless fairytale with a lacy V cutout in the front.
You sewed a panel over it, veiled my budding adulthood.
You tried to save my virtue as diligently as I tried to give it away.

You sewed the next dress with tiers of shimmering pink fabric that carried me to senior prom
and then, when I walked up the road to college, you refined it for a formal
shortening it like the diminishing days of my childhood.
I walked back down the road from college towing
new friends to devour roast chicken and scalloped potatoes (we fancy now)
and green beans that I snuck to a different dog.

Together we raised our glasses of wine and beer and felt the warmth of the radiators that once held poufs of pizza dough.

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