Image of shelter



[Camp Windsor Hill, Rangeley Lake, Maine]

Nephews crowd in with questions
      while I'm cooking --
            My favorite color?
            Favorite food? Favorite place?
I remember this --
      it's a boy's way of ordering the world,
            by category and rank.
            But I cannot choose any more
between the blue of the morning sky
      on the clearest day
            and the pastel glow of the sunset,
            between boiled lobsters and steamed crabs,
between the view of the lake from the porch
      and the way the Carrabasset River bends
            above the Wire Bridge. The world
            has ordered itself quite cleverly.
It no longer needs help from me.

What I have now
      is this favorite skillet --
            cast iron, big, and black,
            older than the stove it sits on
by three-quarters of a century.
      It is seasoned to perfection
            by dozens of cooks
            and thousands of meals --
breakfasts, lunches, dinners --
      all forgotten now.
            But in the silk-smooth surface
            of the skillet's iron
those meals persist --
      they're the molecules that protect
            tonight's mushrooms from scorching,
            and that come between the spinach
and the heat.

July and November, 2001

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