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The thing about people knowing you cook

is that you become an easy target for gifts.

Steamer pot, dutch oven, bamboo sticks,

zesters. Even perishables are fair game,

chiefly when coupled with the hardware.

My sister – of us, she’s famously chef,

meaning she now has the tools she needs,

as all good artists do, to create. Mess be damned,

I’ve never seen her smock without paint on it.

That’s the point: Splash all sauces into tiles, thwap

down meat to rest, over-drizzle oil, even, sometimes,

forget there’s jalapeño dust on fingers, wipe eyes,

cry. Square extra onion for maximum effect.

Watching, I think of kitchens we were never in,

dishes we never ate, people we never met, ingredients,

once-sparse, now dried, abundant. A recipe on a stained

sepia card, the classic cursive, barely legible, unneeded.

Oven heat brings the night’s first sweat, or is it

the bustle, the rustle, the crank of more pepper,

palm pressure applied to crack garlic skins, a pinch more salt,

more salt, a turn back to old memory, a link to the past.

Grant Burkhardt (he/him) is a poet and short fiction writer, currently working on collections of both. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has spent most of his adult life in the weird paradise that is the state of Ohio. More of his writing can be found on Instagram @grantburkhardt.

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