Who is left to fill up the Yorkshire pudding tin,
Crusted a dull jet black from decades of use,
Now that my mother is no longer there?
Who will take the flour, the eggs and the milk
And turn them into something that will rise in hope
And keep a family together?
I turn the tin quietly in my hand.
I should have watched more carefully, questioned more eagerly
Sought out the special way
That she had whisked, baked and stirred.
I should have shown an interest
In the recipe that was knitted into the fabric of her life.
There are no instructions for me now,
No measurements to calibrate the rest of my own life,
No second helpings of love to be going on with.
Her knowledge, her memories, her skills, are all gone.
I had never imagined that simply looking in a recipe book
Could feel like a betrayal.
Later we clear raspberry jam from the back of a sideboard
A hint of summer hidden away in the back bedroom.
Jar after jar of it. A whole season’s worth.
It is hard, crystalline, almost beautiful.
Small tight hats of yellowing paper hold it safe.
Perished rubber bands turn to dust at our touch.
1966. The year of my grandmothers death.
Her handwriting speaks across the years to tell us so.
Jam that was made to be eaten.
A gift of love made from sunshine and sugar.
A gift that has turned into a memorial.
Never tasted, never spoken of, never forgotten.
I had asked my mother about it just once, years before.
And she lashed out at my curiosity, turned away my questions,
Angry at my suggestions of clearing, cleaning, throwing away,
I was left puzzled, bruised and helpless.
It is only now, as I stand here holding an empty Yorkshire pudding tin,
That I can see past her pain and her obstinacy and understand.
I reach out across the darkness to take her hand.