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Heritage in a Spoon
Marilyn Zelke Windau


As a little girl, I watched my father make vegetable soup.
He chopped onions, celery, carrots,
peeled and cut up potatoes, ladled tomatoes,
added sweet corn, broccoli, peas.
McCormick tins came down from the shelf:
salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram, and dry green bay leaves!
He stirred this wonder with a long wooden spoon,
inherited from his mother.
Smooth to his hand, cracked a little at the stirring edge,
he drummed the 15” spoon off the side of the kettle.
My grandma was gone from me at age 3.
Her spoon became a favorite kitchen sight.
When it was brought out from the drawer,  
I knew soup was coming!
That spoon now has a place of honor on my counter.
It towers over other utensils in a red filagree container.
The spoon can chat with the flour canister next to it,
exchange culinary advice with long-stemmed garlic bulbs.
My grandma’s spoon gives advice to the new bamboo tongs,
urges a smaller wooden spoon to stand erect.
History is ladled from this spoon.
I can visualize my father and his brother
standing at the woodstove, asking when the soup will be done.
My daughters gather around me with the same question.  

This poem first appeared in the anthology, Herbs & Spices, (Highland Park Poetry, 2023).
Used here with permission.

Marilyn Zelke Windau, of Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, started writing poems at age thirteen. A former art teacher, she has had five books of poetry published: Adventures in Paradise, Momentary Ordinary, Owning Shadows, Hiccups Haunt Wilson Avenue, and Beneath The Southern Crux. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her award-winning work can be found in many journals and anthologies. Marilyn includes her maiden name to honor her father, who was also a writer. When she's not writing, Marilyn works at restoring her 1891 house and creates mosaics, paintings, and books made with tea papers. A Master Gardener volunteer and an art center docent, she is married to a retired environmental engineer, has three daughters, and three grandchildren.


Post New Comment:
Sharon Waller Knutson:
I love this warm wise poem. Favorite lines: The spoon can chat with the flour canister next to it, exchange culinary advice with long-stemmed garlic bulbs. My grandmas spoon gives advice to the new bamboo tongs, urges a smaller wooden spoon to stand erect.
Posted 01/22/2024 10:43 PM
Thak you to Jayne, and everyone for your warm comments.
Posted 01/22/2024 10:33 PM
I love this warm, friendly, towering spoon that brings family memories as well as chats to the nearby utensils, exchanging advice with the flour canister and telling the smaller spoon to stand up straight. What an interesting kitchen there in Sheboygan Falls!
Posted 01/22/2024 02:26 PM
Lori Levy:
Love all the memories and history in this spoon.
Posted 01/22/2024 01:09 PM
I find tender memories of my father cooking as I read Marilyns poem. My mother left us when I was 8 years old and my sister was 13. My father stepped into the role of mother/father with grace and no complaints. He seemed to enjoy cooking and I cannot recall any TV dinners being set before me. He cooked meals that he saw his mother make, like Red Flannel Hash and American Chop Suey and a lovingly presented Daisy Salad made from hard boiled eggs and crisp lettuce from Dads garden. Thanks, Marilyn, for the memories!
Posted 01/22/2024 12:30 PM
Larry Schug:
I've kept my mom's baking utensils and bowls. I love placing my hands hands in the same space hers once worked. Good work, Marilyn.
Posted 01/22/2024 12:29 PM
I love it when the big spoon gives advice to the little spoon.
Posted 01/22/2024 09:58 AM
Yes, objects can be very special, important beyond their practical use. Appealing, expressive poem
Posted 01/22/2024 09:57 AM
Stephen Anderson:
A nice poem of generational gratitude, Marilyn!
Posted 01/22/2024 09:27 AM
Angela Hoffman:
This poems conjures such warm feelings.
Posted 01/22/2024 08:55 AM
Wilda Morris:
Wonderful combination of memory and imagination! Ellen Kort would be proud!
Posted 01/22/2024 07:43 AM

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