Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Shape of Grace

First there was the shade of the tree
over the front steps, taking the sun's glare
out of our eyes, and when we opened the door

to my grandmother's house, it was inhaling love,
more than just the smells that came from the back
of the house. The living room we stepped into

was clean and silent and poorly named.
We did all our living in the kitchen.
At least my grandmother and I did.

I quickly made my way to the kitchen,
wanting to get there first. She was peering
into the steam of a boiling copper pot

and when she heard me at the kitchen doorway,
that swinging door always creaked on its hinges,
she set down the wide wooden spoon on its rest.

We met midway, by the marble countertop,
a funny thing to have indoors if you think about it.
She set her hazed-over glasses on that

cool, smooth, rock surface, kissed me once
on the forehead, and then enveloped me in her hug.
Then she was flitting out to greet the rest

of my family, but returning to the kitchen
with the grace it deserved. She glanced
at the cuckoo clock by the dining room table,

then turned over the hourglass she used as a timer,
its salt and pepper sands falling, building up
that miniature dune that said dinner was ready.

She called me over, saying time for kisses.
My grandmother never called them pinches or dashes.
They were kisses. That was the shape of her love,

us standing side by side by the old gas stove,
tossing kisses of salt, herbs, and spices
into the family meal. That was what I loved to breathe.

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Wordle 10 at The Sunday Whirl. I'm very late with this one, writing it just the other day, but I have to write a poem to all of Brenda's wordles. It's just a challenge I've set for myself.


  1. This is a wonderful poem, Richard. So filled with nostalgia. So much took place in kitchens. I remember that too. I wonder if this is still the case today.

  2. Richard- I LOVE this piece. I was right there in that kitchen with you and your grandmother... I really like the last stanza, too.

  3. How wonderful your relationship with your grandmother must have been to provide the springboard for this heart-warming poem. I smile.

  4. Mary, thank you. It's still the case in our house; a lot happens in our kitchen. I hope my boys will have fond memories.


  5. Laurie, thanks so much. I'm glad it had that feel to it; I wanted it to feel intimate and immediate.


  6. Kim, I am still blessed with that grandmother. And her kitchen is still a place I love to be.