Yesterday’s Poets & Writers prompt was to muse about our kitchen tables – the food, voices and thoughts they have experienced. Odd, since most of us do not have a kitchen table anymore. Generally, we have ‘dining room’ tables.
The prompt though, took me back to my mother’s table (in the kitchen, of course). I have written about it more than once already and since her death, I’ve sat there often in my dreams.
Her table filled most of the kitchen floor space. It was typically sprinkled with flour, scarred and scratched, spattered with finger paints or spilled milk. Not a chair matched, nor did the extension leaf made by one of my brothers in shop class. And always, in the middle of the table rested a crusted sugar bowl shaped like a red apple.
In her cramped, cozy kitchen the table was as much counter as eating area – a place to roll out ravioli dough or decorate butter cookies. With no desk in the house, it was also where we did our homework (my book reports often stained with sauce or grease) and played Slap Jack or Chinese Checkers. And once a month, it was where my father would set down the mysterious green lock-box and pay the family bills. A cigarette dangling from his lips, it was one of the few times we would ever hear him curse, “Jumpin’ Jehasaphat and all his little disciples!”
I go back to that kitchen table often (didn’t really need the prompt), but now when I envision it, I sit there with my mother and we are both grown women. We drink coffee and share recipes, books we’re reading, family gossip while eating banana nut bread topped with her famous pineapple cream cheese spread.
From the plump red apple, Mom stirs three heaping spoonfuls of sugar into her mug. She lights a Pall Mall, spits out a fleck of tobacco, blows smoke rings toward the ceiling and says, “Stay…have another cup of coffee.”