Betsy Mars is a prize-winning poet, educator, photographer, and recent publisher whose first release, Unsheathed: 24 Contemporary Poets Take Up the Knife, came out in October 2019. Her work has been in The Blue Nib, The Ekphrastic Review, Panoplyzine, and Rattle (photography), to name a few. Her first chapbook, Alinea (Picture Show Press), came out in January 2019.
I found my father in the kitchen most evenings,
whistling When the Saints Go Marching In
or singing along with The Barber of Seville
at the top of his lungs,
shedding every bit of the serious academic
he wore to work each day.
His menu rotation: stuffed peppers,
marinated flank steak with a side of tomatoes
dressed with basil and a drizzle of oil.
Pork chops and applesauce –
a kind of fuck you to his Kosher upbringing.
Spaghetti sauce he taught me:
three bay leaves, a couple of splashes of wine.
The pasta had to be al dente,
and I grew, enlarged with the responsibility
of testing the steaming strand.
Then the crockpot arrived,
and with it, chicken cacciatore,
tender and falling off the bone.
On weekend mornings it might be pancakes
in the shape of my initials,
or the scrambled eggs he showed me
how to perfect, pushing in solids from the side,
bringing the uncooked liquid to the heat.
He went about the business
of cooking as if it weren’t business –
just duty, another kind of provision.