In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Cast-Iron Ghazal
  • Michael McFee (bio)

My mouth won’t ever forget her skill with a skillet,my father’s mother, cookingwith her mother’s skillet.

Looking deep into its heavy antique mirror, I seeher wedding day: white dressand this coal-dark skillet.

Heaven was bacon’s sizzle waking my ears and nose.Or was it one of her chickensslow-frying in the skillet?

Her husband once took it hunting without asking:she said she’d bust his skullwith that upraised skillet.

Fire-born bell whose clapper was a plain dinner fork,juicy fauna and flora notesrang out from her skillet.

I see early widowhood, cooked-for children gone:darkness lends its seasoningto every cast-iron skillet.

She hid its teardrop handle inside her strong gripwhen pouring red-eye gravyfrom one lip of the skillet.

What went into the oven as batter we two mixedcame out as cornbread glory,steaming amen in a skillet.

Black as her Bible, black as her once-maiden hair,black as a panther howlingat midnight, this skillet. [End Page 119]

I see her funeral day, the kitchen filled with foodnot made by her, no flamekissing the empty skillet.

I say McFee into its circle, hear her savory voicegiving back the family namefrom her (now my) skillet. [End Page 120]

Michael McFee

Michael McFee teaches poetry writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published ten collections of poetry (most recently That Was Oasis), a collection of essays (The Napkin Manuscripts), and three anthologies, including The Language They Speak Is Things to Eat: Poems by Fifteen Contemporary North Carolina Poets.



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pp. 119-120
Launched on MUSE
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