My Aunt Eza had her young men.
She had them
when she was young
and when she was not
just to try them
from both ends.
Young men are like green wood
she used to say.
They bend nice.
You can make most anything
out of them.
But they don’t hold nails
and when what you need
is a belly full of fire,
they’re all spit and sizzle.
The stains darken and spread
like age spots
and I can hardly tell anymore
what quantities to add,
to set the oven for.
The best recipes
encrusted with the yolks of eggs,
the juice of lemons,
smeared with vanilla and creamed butter
where I fingered the pages like Braille,
tongue clamped between my teeth,
unset gelatin dripping from a spoon,
drop after drop.
It’s still here
on page 93.
Along the borders of the same page
containing my daughter’s first scribbles,
dizzying loops and aerial angles.
Her daring attempt
to catch my eye.
I inherited Fannie Farmer from my own mother
who brought it with her from Nashville
on a Greyhound bus
days before my daughter’s birth.
She promised cooking and cleaning and setting
She found the bottle of scotch instead
and dribbled her own ruined intentions
over Clams Casino.
It’s still here
on page 239
of the Fannie Farmer cookbook
she left behind, all that was left
of what she meant to give.
I’ve used it ever since,
held together with a rubber band.
The stains, the scribbles, the daring
Mary Cuffe Perez, Galway, New York, is the author of Nothing by Name and The Woman of Too Many Days (poetry books) a children’s novel, Skylar and, most recently Barn Stories, which won the 2018 Adirondack Writing Center’s Award for Best Memoir. She has written articles for Adirondack Life, Yankee, Northern Woodlands and other magazines and has published poetry and fiction in several literary venues.