copied out at kitchen tables after good meals
and proofed for quantity and degree,
they were handed down
from grandmother to mother to daughter,
from sister to sister, from friend to hungry friend,
pages from the never-finished history of appetite
written in a range of styles
but always in the familiar imperative.
The best ones were stained with their own ingredients.
You could find them in cookbooks or boxes
or (as with my mother) in a drawer
stuffed full as a Thanksgiving turkey
with index cards, sheets from notepads and notebooks,
whatever paper was available
blue with her impatient arthritic curve —
flavors I still remember
when I find her favorite recipes in an old envelope.
They are receipts for some unaccountable hunger.
They are prescriptions that might yet cure.
They are something given, and received: