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Kitchen Library — Jane Kenyon

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Sometimes only a poem can say adequately what needs to be said. Here is one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets. It’s about most of the things we blog about on jellypress: old recipes, modern life, threads connecting present and past, belief, daily ritual, the span of one woman’s life as map and measure of time, and walking on with one foot in the present doing what must be done today, the other in memory. Enjoy.

Church Fair
From Jane Kenyon: Collected Poems

Who knows what I might find
on tables under the maple trees —
perhaps a saucer in Aunt Lois’s china pattern
to replace the one I broke
the summer I was thirteen and visiting
for a week. Never in all these years
have I thought of it without
a warm surge of embarrassment.

I’ll go through my own closets and cupboards
to find things for the auction.
I’ll bake a peach pie for the food table,
and rolls for the supper.
Gramdma Kenyon’s recipe, which came down to me
along with her sturdy legs and brooding disposition.
“Mrs. Kenyon,” the doctor used to tell her,
“you are simply killing yourself with work.”
This she repeated often, with keen satisfaction.

She lived to a hundred and three,
surviving all her children.
including the one so sickly at birth
that she had to carry him everywhere on a pillow
for the first four months. Father
suffered from a weak chest — bronchitis,
pneumonias, and pluerisy — and early on
books and music became his joy.

Surely these clothes are from another life —
not my own. I’ll drop them off on the way
to town. I’m getting the peaches
today, so that they’ll be ripe by Sunday.

see also: Kitchen Library









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