May 13, 2022

May 14, 2022

My Grandmother’s Table

The occasions
were silky and ribboned
like gifts—
platters and people
draping the dining room
in holiday flourish—
the silver
of my nostalgia.

But the texture
of my childhood
emerged from the grain
of four simple chairs
around Mama’s kitchen table.
It was there I was nourished;
it was there I was fed.

When you grow up Italian,
love is measured in meatballs.

Love was the baked eggplant
stretched to share,
even after guests stopped by,
sitting on the piano bench
folding their legs like sheet music
in order to fit.
We always left full.

It was like the story of loaves and fishes.
Which makes me wonder
if that miracle was really about the food.

I know now that it was. And also, it wasn’t.

Because at Mama’s table, love was the pot of jambot
but it was also the play grimaces
my grandfather made to me
while eating his least favorite dish.
Nourishment came from being together
at one table
fed by ladles of belonging.
I’m pretty sure that’s where all miracles begin.

I wish I could tell my grandparents
what sitting at their table meant to me.
That I never take for granted
what it means to feel welcome.
How they showed me
there is always room, and there is always enough.
That I am grateful, every day
for the meatballs.

Kathyn Yingst