What We Hold Inside

(for the Goddess & Kay)

The scent of cinnamon, brown sugar, & sweet butter slide up my nostrils like an entire childhood. It is the closest thing to heaven I can think of.

I disappear into high school days, God searching days, free verse days. I disappear on my old wooden bunk bed with my sister, Kay, talking about Gary, Bruce, and Mike Lombardi, who made my body quiver, my hands sweat, made me sit by the phone on Saturday nights, and in the end, broke my heart into a million pieces.

Why do we desire what we cannot have?

The carpet is burnt orange like a lit cigarette, and the walls are pea green. I love that bedroom, or perhaps it is because my sister is there, my childhood is there, my dreams are there. Maybe it is because daddy’s homemade spaghetti sauce simmers on the stove all day long.

I write in tablets, hundreds of tablets, page after page of tablets. I skip lines, scribble, jot down the names of poets I want to read, boys I want to kiss, metaphors I don’t understand.

I do not fully recognize my feelings, shadows, and sharp claws, which I drown with poetry.

I find Plath. She gets me, really gets me. I find it astonishing how a stranger from Boston can write the things I think, say the things I want to say,
I am not crazy after all.

My mother is a stay-at-home-mother, a goddess, a saint.

My sister and I watch her create ‘real’ cinnamon buns, not the store bought variety, but all the actual ingredients like grandmas’ use.

We watch her shift around the kitchen— her apron strings swinging from side to side like Poe’s Pendulum. Her movements are familiar, self-assured.

She kneads the dough; her strong hands rising and falling oh-so-beautifully, oh-so-masterfully. Her fingers are perfection, and I wonder if I’ll ever achieve that kind of maternal exquisiteness.

She melts the butter, then rubs it over the buns. Her wedding bands are still on—glittering gold like happy wives.

She tells my sister and me to grab handfuls of brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg.

Cheerfully, we do as she says.

While the buns brown, we dance the twist barefooted on yellowed kitchen linoleum listening to Patsy, Tammy, Loretta.

“Because your good girl’s gonna go bad
I’m gonna be the swingin’est swinger you’ve ever had
If you like’em painted up powdered up then you ought to be glad
Cause your good girl’s gonna go bad.”

“My God, now those are voices,” my mother purrs.

She extends her right hand out to Kay—then her left hand out to me
and begins to twisting, turning, swinging her large, Marilyn Monroe hips.

We weave against each other until our sides hurt, our breath lessens.

I can still taste my mother’s cherry lipstick on my mouth, still smell her Aqua Net hair spray, her Avon perfume.

I can still hear my sister’s laughing, snorting, as if these moments will last forever.

At last, I understand.

This is the reason we have memories; this is the reason we relive what is stored inside.

To gather up its heat for later use.

Gooey cinnamon buns. Sisters. Poetry. Dancing on yellowed linoleum with the Goddess.

O’ the love pours over those days like a benediction.

Photo Credit: Mateus Lunardi Dutra Flickr via Compfight cc

  1. Jennifer Dearing

    I can just see the three of you in that kitchen and smell the buns baking. Nice work ,Kim. X

  2. Kim,
    I’ve read most of your posts. All are real and raw and exquisite. This one melted on my tongue. I could taste the cinnamon, I could hear the music, I could feel the bond. This is an exceptional piece and I reread it remembering my own childhood and the moments with my brother. I love you and I love Kay. I feel as though I know her through you. God Bless your voice and your gift! ❤❤

  3. My darlink Kim – this is probably THE best thing you’ve ever written. I was dancing in the kitchen with my own mom and dad, I was remembering my own mom’s amazing cinnamon rolls, the music, the smiles, the scents, the memories. You took me there just as surely as Chanel #5, mom’s signature scent, does. Thank you for brightening my day!

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