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Poem: "Grandma's Kitchen" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Grandma's Kitchen"

Here is the extra freebie poem from the "Monster House" series, based on meeting the $150 goal in the April 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  The prompt came from aldersprig who wanted to see more of Grandma.  (I got some good ideas from other prompts too.)  This is the first poem written from a different viewpoint than our primary narrator, and it features a young girl exploring Grandma's kitchen ... and beyond.

You can read the other "Monster House" poems on the "Serial Poetry" page of my website.


Grandma's Kitchen


Grandma's kitchen smells of cinnamon
and baking bread and ripe bananas,
but underneath the cooking smells, there is
a tang of oil like what goes on a sewing machine
only it doesn't come from any of the appliances.

Grandma's kitchen is full of windows
that let in the sun,
falling in warm rectangles over the table
and lying against my cheek like flannel,
but there's a spot, one spot,
on the floor that always feels cold.

When I was five,
my little fingers found the hidden catch
behind the refrigerator
that opened the door in the floor.
My seeing-eye gremlin led me
down the secret staircase,
the boards creaking underfoot.

Grandma's laboratory
was a big basement under the house,
full of soft clicks and whirrs and beeps.
I could see only two things there:
my faithful gremlin
and a pile of light like blocks stuck together,
turning and turning in the air
as cubes and angles swallowed each other.

Then Grandma found me
and shooed me back upstairs.
She made me promise
not to talk about what I'd seen
down there.

I said I would,
if she'd promise
to show me  more.

"When you're older, lovey,"
she said to me,
"we'll see about that."

Grandma's kitchen is a good place
for learning to cook,
and it's easier now that I have
the Eye of Fate to give me
a shadowy vision of the room around me.

Grandma's laboratory waits below.
Sometimes she brings up things to share,
strange gizmos with rounded corners
and warm hexagonal buttons
that I'm not supposed to press yet.
Sometimes I can glimpse inside them
a hovering spark of energy,
bright as the tumbling blocks in the basement.

The rest of the family
doesn't think any of her inventions work,
and I want to argue with them
but Grandma always shushes me
and piles more food on the kitchen table.

"Shh, lovey," she says to me.
"Wait and see."

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22 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: April 14th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful. I love the mood between Grandma and Granddaughter and the way the child describes the rooms using non-visual descriptors first, spot on!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 14th, 2011 09:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

>>Beautiful. I love the mood between Grandma and Granddaughter<<

Thank you. I like exploring family dynamics.

>> and the way the child describes the rooms using non-visual descriptors first, spot on! <<

I'm glad it worked!

I have a number of characters who perceive the world through different senses than usual, or a different order of priorities. So for blind characters, their experiences focus first on sounds, scents, and textures (not necessarily in that order) distantly followed by whatever bits of visual input they might have. It gives the storytelling a very different effect from the usual, which is visual first and then audio. Conversely my deaf characters tend to focus on visual motion and tactile input first, with sound manifesting as vibrations. After going through all kinds of alien species with wildly different senses, juggling the priority of human perceptions to account for handicaps is pretty simple.
meeksp From: meeksp Date: April 14th, 2011 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, you've done a fantastic job of creating a sense of what these rooms are like without it actually being an image. I especially love the tactile feeling of the second stanza :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 15th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like it. The second stanza took some tweaking to make all the references tactile -- it's challenging to talk about the sun without mentioning light.
siege From: siege Date: April 14th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
You got me giggling. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 14th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm happy to hear that. I was intrigued by the conspiratorial direction this poem took.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: April 15th, 2011 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

Yes, the sense of conspiracy is a lovely touch. Carefully no mention of whether grandma noticed the seeing eye gremlin or not. :)

And ... Eye of Fate? Oh dear. I don't think that was named before. That sounds serious.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 15th, 2011 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

>> And ... Eye of Fate? Oh dear. I don't think that was named before. <<

It wasn't, because she didn't mention exactly where she'd gotten it from. But she knows.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: April 15th, 2011 01:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, man, yes. I'm weepy today, but that brought back images of my grandma's kitchen (where I spent much of my childhood) and then took me form the familiar to the unfamiliar very nicely.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 15th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm happy to hear that. It was the kind of effect I was aiming for.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: April 15th, 2011 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

Also: Yay, my prompt! :-D
eseme From: eseme Date: April 15th, 2011 01:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Lovely!

I do like that kitchen, and the description of the smells particularly.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 15th, 2011 02:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear that.

I think each kitchen has its own unique combination of ingrained smells, based on what kinds of things are most often cooked there. The pattern becomes part of the room's identity.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: April 15th, 2011 01:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my!

I'm really enjoying this family and their quirks and such.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 15th, 2011 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad to hear that. It's fun to find things out piece by piece.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: April 15th, 2011 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I like this one a lot!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 15th, 2011 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear that.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: April 15th, 2011 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
More Monster House! Squee! This has made my day - thank you for sharing it!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 15th, 2011 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

You're welcome!

I'm glad you enjoyed this.
laffingkat From: laffingkat Date: April 16th, 2011 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, I really liked this one! It reminds me a little bit of time I spent with my own grandmother when I was young, but I suspect it's also a bit of how I would have like my childhood to have been. :) And the sensory descriptions are really well done. I look forward to learning more about these two!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 16th, 2011 05:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> It reminds me a little bit of time I spent with my own grandmother when I was young, but I suspect it's also a bit of how I would have like my childhood to have been.<<

I'm glad that I managed to touch that note with a lot of people.

>> And the sensory descriptions are really well done. I look forward to learning more about these two! <<

Yay! I'm happy to hear that.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: August 5th, 2011 11:34 am (UTC) (Link)
"Shh, lovey," she says to me.
"Wait and see."


I can't wait to see!
22 comments or Leave a comment