Listen to Jill McDonough reading this poem.
I’ll miss her smoky cooking, beans
in molasses, coffee with cream. Warm
mornings, her clean kitchen. Soapy streams
of fresh-pumped water on her arms.
Her Narrow Stript pink Cherredary
Goun turn’d up with a little flour’d
red & white Callico. Contrary,
very pretty. And vain. Spent hours
at her sewing. Everything in a birch
bark basket. Clean. She had a pretty
body, worked hard in the kitchen, stitched
quick, tidy stitches. Used too little
nutmeg, too much mace. In A stript
Homespun Quilted Petticoat, plain
muslin Apron. She loved the ripe
pears from the pear tree, glazed with rain.
Her hair in tidy plaits: plain Pinners
& a red & white flower’d knot.
Come back, beloved. Oils, paper,
whatever you lack. An apricot
tree, blue ribbons. A necklace to match
your green Stone Earrings. A dozen pairs
of White Cotton Stockings, a latch
for your door, lace, linen aprons to wear
if you’d come back to Pinckney Street,
this narrow brick house with its new
porch. Over the cobbled pavers. Neat
in your Leather heel’d Wooden Shoes.