HomeSouthern VoiceWhen Asked To Bring An Object More Precious Than Gold To School, My Daughter Brings A Dish Towel

When Asked To Bring An Object More Precious Than Gold To School, My Daughter Brings A Dish Towel

by Danielle Sellers

When I cook, I sling it over my shoulder.
She knows I am happiest
in a steamy kitchen papered with cherries,
the smell of trinity frying in a big red pot,
the call and response of Bamboleo
on the radio. I never knew she noticed.
No one’s ever looked at me that hard.

I do it this way because my grandmother did.
Gone from me now, nearly ten years.
It is my way of calling her back.
In the kitchen I feel her over my shoulder,
silently judging the color of my roux,
the sound of her East Texas drawl
a distant bell only I can hear.

My daughter wants to help, like I did.
This is our thing now, filling the cup
with flour, leveling it with the spine
of a butter knife, like I was taught
when my hands were small. We take turns
stirring with a wooden spoon twice my age,
browning butter to copper.

My daughter tires, wants it over quick.
I stir and stir and stir, my hand over hers.
Anything worth doing is worth doing
well, I tell her in my own voice. Later,
when she lifts the bowl to her mouth,
tastes what took all day, she understands.


Danielle Sellers is from Key West, Florida. She has an MA from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of Mississippi, where she held the John Grisham Poetry Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Subtropics, Smartish Pace, The Cimarron Review, Poet Lore and elsewhere. Her first book, Bone Key Elegies, was published by Main Street Rag. Her second poetry collection, The Minor Territories, is forthcoming from Sundress Publications in 2018. She teaches Literature and Creative Writing at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, Texas.

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