Nana’s Kitchen

gerald-a.-frank-crone-in-the-kitchen

Crone in the Kitchen by Gerald Frank

My grandmother stands
at the large wood stove
in her kitchen built of stone
at a time before the luxury of pipes and running water.
(do you remember to stop for her and see such as luxury?)

Actually, her kitchen sits unchanged
maybe for centuries
still not knowing such luxury.
Maybe just more broken open,
overgrowing, overrun.

9 years old
on the first visit here to her farm
Old enough to be aware
of where I am
Old enough to save a memory

the rural hillsides, a village called
Boljkovci

Her kitchen is always dark,
this little freestanding hut
built away from the main house (of 2 rooms)

It is ancient. It is cold. I have to get dressed and wear shoes to walk here, to sit here. Its smell all smoky, damp and barn-like all at once.

It is so strange to me, this kitchen.
Not what I have known a kitchen to be.
Their entire home not what I have understood a home to be….
like
something yanked out of a different era
that evolution had overlooked and bypassed just about entirely.

like
a place we could be visiting on a school trip to see how people used to live…
staged, stove & furniture roped off.

only it’s not.

I don’t entirely understand this…
I am uncomfortable.
I feel sad.
I feel anxious.
(I would like to leave now but know I can’t)

I am quiet.

Grandmother prepares some eggs for me.
I don’t know if I can eat it
but then
the plate is set down before me and
something in their presentation reminds me of my mother
As does her endearment spoken to me, my mom’s ‘peeleh’
eat, my little chick

Ah….my grandma called my mom peeleh
my mom calls me peeleh
how far back does it go, I wonder…
peeleh…
who started this endearment
and when?

Her eyes are kind
I feel I can trust her
though
so much of what I’m seeing kind of
scares me…
the harsh black widow’s garb…
this hunched back…the
profile of her head reminding me of the illustrations
in fairy tales of witches….

this is where i come from

her eyes are kind, yes,
and don’t mask the suffering beneath

is this mine too?

the deeply etched lines on her face
her inflamed and scabbed legs
the gnarling hands

I eat what I can of the eggs and the cheese
but they too
taste strange to me
and tough to swallow
as though
I’m ingesting this place with each bite

I go outside into the summer day
just beyond the yard
the green rolling hills beckon me
Warm and bright outside.

I run down a hill

out of breath
I collapse on the grass
looking up at the blue skies
and rolling puffy clouds

despite all,
elated in this place

there is so much beauty

Art by Gerald Frank


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