By Clio Barrett
This poem is a classic extended metaphor and an angry feminist poem about a woman’s relationship to food and the kitchen.
the woman returns to the kitchen. because to cook is to keep alive what you have created, what you have birthed, to nourish the fruit you bore, or the man you picked, or the one who picked you to sustain them, blend your love like smoothies or pulse it up like carrots in a food processor it’s to tender love and care the cuts of steak and sausage and marinate your own hands make your back the very plate the very meal the very life sucked out through marrow by teeth by the bosom and the blossom it drapes to sacrifice your own body for the jaws of those who do not have time to search up a recipe or ask their mother or their grandmother or one of the many women in their lineage for a family recipe because that would break the cycle that flour is a girls work it is the woman who remembers the culture and the measurements of the sugar bowl, feminine filo, estrogen like yeast like bread and risen ghosts it is the woman who knows what it is to share her own body, not with just fetuses but the eyes of so many the back molars and hungry hands of unwanted suitors of harsh appetites and tongues and conversation why can’t the woman just cook for herself why must she be the meal why must she sustain and not be credited why must she bend her back and break it so her children can feed so the world can feed and why is she silenced when she asks to keep her foot or a pinky or one of her eyes or anything of hers for herself not too meaty but not too light so as to weigh the stomach so as to satisfy the eyes but not suffocate the palate.
This piece is inspired by a play I went to see called “The Skin of Our Teeth” by Thornton Wilder, reimagined by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. In it, a family of four and their maid face different apocalyptic events, showing how the typical household troupe transcends time. In this unusual anti-play, the maid Sabina says something along the lines of “No matter how far away we get, women always return to the kitchen.” My interpretation of this quote was that no matter how much we feel we have escaped inequality, women will always maintain a more developed version of the same societal stature. I decided to use the metaphor of cooking and a woman’s generational position to represent the pressure women endure in today’s society.
Clio Barrett is a 16-year-old Asian-Ameircan writer born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Clio loves poetry, dogs and silver jewelry and when she isn’t dreaming up new obscure metaphors or scribbling random thoughts into her notes app, she spends her free time with her friends and family exploring the city and trying new foods.