A wood-burning cook stove is the total opposite of that funky electric Hotpoint you had in your first apartment. There are tricks to using one but once you know how, it becomes a partner in turning a cold room into a sweet-smelling, warm kitchen. No wonder they are passed down from generation to generation.
Georgia Santa-Maria is an Albuquerque native, born in the old purple brick St. Jo’s on Martin Luther King. Jewell Thompson, her 5th grade principal at Emerson Elementary, said that in 36 years of teaching, she was the worst kid she’d ever known. Georgia decided to take poetry seriously when her senior English teacher at Valley HS told the class that there had never been a woman poet worth reading. She has been writing ever since. She has been published in several poetry mags. Georgia currently lives in Belen.
Love Poem For My Stove
I know in my sleep your thunks and clunks
The early morning jumble, shaken grate
Last night’s ashes, falling down below
A metallic thump, the opening draft.
Swish-clunk, the damper being pulled
To open up the flue, suck the wind across
The newly crackling fire, quick
Warm the kitchen--then the house.
A morning ritual, the music of clanking lids--
The lifter close, the poker too, on
Hooks along a shelf.
Matches in a Christmas tin
With Chinese birds and prunus branch
Fireproof. My favorite iron pans,
Shining black, top the warming shelf.
Before my time with you, you raised
A family of seven children
Born to your warmth, Bathed
In your hot water. You cooked their food.
Made their home a happy memory.
The occasional panco calf or baby chicks
Kept alive behind, in beds or boxes--
Dogs and cats, and children too.
One day, my Greyboy woke up
Fur scorched and smoking
From his nap underneath you.
I remember 2 ex-husbands
Who never understood:
To start a fire, use small wood.
One always cut the wood an inch too long
For my difficulty’s sake, before divorce
Solved that and other problems.
When I was young, I chopped up
Kindling with my karate foot.
Now, in my arthritic days,
A hatchet does the job.
To bathe 3 dirty boys, took 7 gallons, boiling
And another 7, from the well and cold.
In winter, we moved the tub beside the stove,
Laid towels across the backs of kitchen chairs, to warm.
Modesty a least consideration,
Expediency and heat the goals.
You’ve cooked, God knows how many Christmas dinners,
Thanksgiving turkeys we raised ourselves
Canned a thousand jars of peaches,
Applesauce, tomatoes, chile
Warmed our hearts, our stomachs and our toes.
Last week, in honor of our 37 years together,
Longer than marriages, friendships, jobs--
I bought you a present. A new wood basket
Made in Africa, from another woman’s
Hands and sweet imagination, orange
And blue, green and cream--accessorizes you
Holds your kindling, waiting
Happily, for tomorrow morning’s fire--
The coffee pot, the clanking into
A new day, new life, bright and hot,
Sparks and crackling, cooking
Breakfast eggs and home made toast
With you, old friend, my green South Bend.
Poetry submissions are welcome. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. The whole Sunday Poem series is available from the front page of the DCF by clicking on The DitchRider in the left-hand sidebar. Poems early in the series are archived under "previous post" at the bottom of The DitchRider blog.