A Chef's Devotion - Elise Stouffer

The smoke in the chimney bends dense and hurried

And the kettle bubbles quiet all night,

Waiting for bells rung by limbs unburied,

Stretching towards clean morning light.

The shining pots, hung over the stove,

Chime softly in the winter’s draft.

Grace my hand and sing my dove,

And embrace our violent craft.


The gas of the flames whispers low as a snake

Riling shadows who dance across the wall,

Tales in latticed windowpanes to wake,

Voiced by the chat of the garden door and the squall:

Spirits outside echo the wild desires

Throbbing in the kitchen stone.

Join our rhythm with the frozen briars

Hewing fur and flesh from bone.


There is the stench of the boar spread all across the table

And eggs brought from the henhouse freshly laid,

And the canned beans and tomatoes chuckling towards the sable

Strung proudly over the mantle since last noon he was slayed.

What matter if we start from the tail or the brow,

And end covered in sticky fat and blood?

For all washes down the pipe into the stream where the firs bow,

And the creatures sleep warm, beneath roots packed with mud.


Aloof, the trees cry the storm will pass by dawn

But the shrieks of the crockery call loud,

For the blackened pans to the sinks long gone–

Less their decadent fare well-endowed;

And it seems like the time when after the rush

We might rest our bones with a draft,

But come with me, steel love, to the upstairs; hush

And embrace our violent craft.

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