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,
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
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….
something yanked out of a different era
that evolution had overlooked and bypassed just about entirely.
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
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…
who started this endearment
Her eyes are kind
I feel I can trust her
so much of what I’m seeing kind of
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
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
elated in this place
there is so much beauty
Art by Gerald Frank