Fog lifts, hovers above line of spruce silhouettes, gray deepens, cool breeze
Streams through window, waving clothesline of dish cloths, blue-checked, red-striped
From black and white photograph, Josephine, the Swedish cook 80 years ago,
Queen of doughnuts and pies, eyes whippersnappers wielding her knives
On the back porch, wringer washer straddles stone sinks, ready to suds and flatten
Iron ready to sear and polish starched high-collared white shirts required at dinner
Sweet grass baskets traded off the dock from the last Wabanakis who fish, feast,
And toss shells onto ancient mound littered with bone hooks and flint arrowheads
Grandmother took her dip on North Beach at dawn. Stained fingers in strawberry
Thickets in South Meadow. Filled her baskets for hand-cranked ice cream
Four door oak panels, brass locking latches on icebox, translucent cubes a boy
Could barely haul, fetched out of packed sawdust from icehouse
Galvanized knee-high bucket, collage of compost, yellow red onion skins, arugula stems.
Depression glass tray, ripe tomatoes sliced red, purple, yellow
White enamel double sink, chrome spigots tightened back
Steaming ribbons of cabbage glow in red pottery platter, toss with butter, salt, pepper
White hands on black clock inch past 7 p.m. Cooks confer, tenor questions bass,
“What’s our ETA on grilling the salmon? They’re thick!”
Off the back porch, across the reach, fog sinks covering islands, long shadows on water
Flames flicker on grill, licking olive-oiled silver skin on salmon slabs
Steaming potatoes tumble into pottery bowl speckled with parsley butter
Steamed carrots and pea pods slide into green glass bowl
Tenor’s fingertips press on sizzling salmon. “If I were a salmon in this heat,
For this length of time, how would I feel?” Tastes hot morsel
Bass voice: “Shit, Shit! A Casualty! Sour dough bread in oven! Oh… saved!”
Rapid sawing, steaming crusted wedges laid on faded green tea towel in wooden bowl
Delicate Persian fingers wield knife like a surgeon, separating salmon into portions
Plate up: delicate cabbage, nestled salmon, savory sauce above and below
Artists carry laden china plates to vast cypress table gleaming in candlelight
Cooks return to kitchen and toss their exuberant arms around each other
62 / 63
Barney Stein
“Oh man, taste the broth!... Does this need a
Soupçon of salt and white wine?
Bon appetit! Lovely, lovely. And yes, salt.”
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