Kitchens are loud with pots come to boil
banging their lids, oil bubbles’ outbursts,
knives’ clash and cleave, and talk
of meat and bread, curing and uprising.
Though it’s called studying the silences
to consider recipes as history. Which is to consider
their absence. And what the kind of people
who work in the kitchen get to put in writing.
Certainly I have sat while gravy cooled,
skimming and quivering with tension,
or a cut of meat emitted the animal suggestion
of its source (she must have bleated at slaughter),
and no one spoke. These modern dinners,
only two in their private oppression,
bad enough that I should understand.
A white page in a story is not one at peace.
So, in the absence of recipes, return
to images in memory. Watching old women,
the white bowls of milk into which they
sunk fish. To soak it, to make the aftertaste
mild. For appearances, for serving
fried filets, they laid lettuce leaves
over the heads, the eyes cooked blank.
The open lips beneath still say plenty.