Poem for poetry-phobes

Until 1990 I was a poetry-phobe. But if I had read Marge Piercy’s 1976 poem, “What’s that Smell in the Kitchen,” I would have been cured. I heard Piercy speak many years ago, as I sat behind her onstage, and she was hilarious and down-to-Earth and appealing to the high school audience. And that’s how her poems seem, although they appeal to a wide audience.
Angry at her first husband, Piercy speaks for many women in the seventies, rebelling against their entrapment in the kitchen. She says women are burning dinners all over the country. She describes how delicious she had once been to the husband and how tasteless she was at the time of writing. Hence, women burn meals, not from incompetence, but from retaliation.
More and more men today are enjoying cooking. Our son and son-in-law do lots of it. My husband never avoided the stove, but as we’ve delegated tasks in our marriage, he has taken on more of the leg work, and I, with my disabilities, the small gross motor activities. Cooking has fallen into that category.
I’ve only objected to the task twice—once when our daughter at 12 decided to become a vegetarian, and our son steadfastly clung to his carnivorous ways. Result: two entrees per night.
And six months ago when my husband and I became vegetarians. We rented one too many movies like “Food Inc,” and couldn’t continue supporting the industry any longer. Now meals take much longer to prepare.
But cooking doesn’t have to be a chore to enjoy Piercy’s comic poem. And I recommend it to all.

About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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