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