I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

28 April 2015

First Catch Your Hare

My mother had a copy of Mrs Beeton, so thick
it was almost square. I wonder what became of that?
It really did contain those infamous words
about the hare. I read them with my own eyes.

She also had an exercise book
where she wrote her own recipes by hand.
That too did not survive — at least
not into my keeping. It was much coveted.

In those days a woman's cooking
was her claim to fame and status.
Mum's biscuits with the raisins
were unique. I can still savour the taste.

I recall it all these decades later!
But she never taught me, not even
her own daughter. Recipes were secret,
devotedly guarded. Oh, people asked.

And, smiling, the good cooks agreed,
and gave the seeker a copy — but always
lacking some specific, crucial ingredient.
My mother never taught me to cook.

Recipe for raising a non-cook:
1)    Never share your culinary secrets.
2)    Craft your own identity (or persona)
from these externals. Ignore who else you are.

Ignore your intellect, your love of the arts,
and any hint of self-determination.
3) Fail to look convincingly happy.
Have breakdowns. Take to your bed with pills.

4) Do all this in full view of your daughter.
5) Be pleased when your husband, her father,
reads her poems for bedtime stories. Encourage 
her own love of poetry. Applaud her for writing some.

And it's done. You are raising, not Good Housekeeping
bread, but a rebel: no fluffy, perfect loaf but hard, chewy
sourdough. It takes a long time to cook, but 
it's healthier. (Trust me.) And each one's different.


I don't make raisin biscuits, with or without
a secret ingredient. I never bake. I make poems.
What goes into them, I can't buy at the shop.
I'm out in the wild, running down hares.

The April 27 piece for 'Poems in April' at 'imaginary garden with real toads' is supposed to be a recipe — for food or anything else.  I get there in the end, sort of.

In case you don't know who Mrs Beeton was, Wikipedia tells you about her amazing book.


  1. You baked quite a scrumptious poem :D
    Loved it!

  2. Love this! I turned all my angst growing up into poetry when I reached my teenage years. Then I went silent until my voice returned in 2006. I believe creating a poet was the best recipe.

  3. Wonderful, Rosemary! You bring so much to this poem...relaying stories and history...with poetic flair!

  4. Ha, I think this was a healthier way.. At least for us.

  5. Rosemary! I LOVE THIS. Wonderful, well done, telling like it is. With love, but truth. Really good!
    My mom had this giant cookbook put together from many chapters all sold separately. It had to be nearly a foot thick, with a green cover. I think (but am not certain) it was from Good Housekeeping. I certainly grew up reading that magazine because she subscribed. :)
    Your poem made me think of a terrific new poem by a local friend here, Paul Richmond, about his grandmother and her cooking. He read it recently at a reading my group held, and then the local newspaper did a short article and a really great video of him reading it. I think you would like it so am sharing the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2kZXsNbRtY#t=15

  6. Wonderful, Rosemary. I love the way you wind this poem up "What goes into them, I can't buy at the shop. I'm out in the wild, running down hares." And, that's good for all your hungry readers.

  7. Great poem.

    When my mother passed, I made scrap books of her handwritten recipes with some pictures of her and gifted them to her grandchildren.

  8. I hope you find your Hare, Rosemary. Mrs. Jim's mom never would let her cook at home. So she hadn't learned good at all when we married.
    I brought to the union my Betty Crocker Cookbook, a classic now. It even tells how to make hardboiled eggs three ways. My chili is to die for, so is my pizza from scratch. The Kids didn't like the split pea soup with sautéed onions and hot dog pieces.