In This Season of Soup,

of remembering, gathering, the sugar skulls

and crisp leaves like a loved one’s skin,

I cook to celebrate your lives, and cry

into the onions on the cutting board:

my mother’s pinto beans with smoked hocks,

chow-chow dollop on top an echo of her Scotch-Irish

roots, the split pea soup that was dad’s favorite

(marjoram and thyme, thick bacon and saltines)

and for my mother-in-law, roasted squash

and green chile pureed with tortillas.

The soups all mean love, mean we’ll be taken

care of as the days shorten and the air chills.

This is how we love: with steam filling the house

and fogging the windows, with earthy

beans, squash, corn, the trinity of the Appalachian

Cherokee moved south and west

to the broader shoulders of the Rockies,

with our beloved roasted chiles

and heat in the cornbread.

This is how we live: through simple food

cooked long in a cast iron Dutch oven

five generations old, oiled and seasoned

as we are seasoned through birth, life

and death and birth again, my young nephew

asking for seconds of the beans and

drizzling honey from Paonia on his cornbread

In this season we cook and remember,

filling our crocks with love, leaving smudges

on recipe cards and teaching the next generation

the lovely, solemn importance of soup.

                                            Jennifer Rane Hancock