Friday, June 19, 2015

The poetry of kitchens

I'm trying to love my new kitchen.
It has a wobbly floor, an old hopper window, the brown painted frame all scratched and worn, and mouldy in parts. The view is of a straggly, almost leafless fuchsia, and our neighbour Bill's tall green colourbond fence. I stoop there at the ancient kitchen sink, my hands sunk in suds.

The walls are an unattractive yellowy browny pale green. There is an old brick chimney, in which sits our brand- new stove. We have put up makeshift open shelves for cups and herbs, and have an old tall bookshelf  along one wall for putting kitchen things. There are some saucepans and plastic things in three cardboard boxes atop a card table jammed in one corner.

The only nice feature is the pressed-metal ceiling. When we tear this kitchen down, after all danger of a late spring snow has passed, this is the only part we will salvage, perhaps using part of it as a splash back above the benches. It will be a quotation from the old kitchen, a nod towards its history in this 1920s house.
I've been trying to see the beauty in this kitchen, because after all, most of my favourite poems are about things that people would find unremarkable, or ugly. I'm thinking about the white chickens and the red wheelbarrow of William Carlos Williams,  and his broken green glass between the walls of the hospital. I'm thinking of my own Sophie, from My Candlelight Novel, who wanted a poetry of kitchens. I can't quote from her as the book is still packed away somewhere in our recently- moved-into house, but I remember she wanted a poem about the squalor of  under-the-sink.

Ah, the squalor of under the sink! I know it well. The only thing I will put there are  a few cleaning things, ironic, as I regard it as too squalid for anything else.

But we have put up posters to cheer the place up. A Chagall, ('Paris through the Window')',  a dance poster from Sydney in the 1970s( a parody taken from Delacroix 's Liberty leading the masses), one for the Ray Price Quintet, and one of our own ( in my period as a member of the Without Authority poster group) urging people to deface tobacco billboards.

And I  have my life size chook made by our friend John Waters on the mantelpiece, my collection of old China Easter egg cups,  and my collection of tiny cats. And of course, some cat bowls for my real cat, Louis.

So it is quite a homely kitchen, despite its inconvenience and dilapidation,  and one day perhaps I will write a poem to it.

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