Spring 2021

In Which My Mother Teaches Me

by Claire Scott

I would like to write a poem
about how my mother taught me to cook.
How she tied a red checkered apron around my waist,
patted my curls and put her special recipe
for angel food cake on the counter and off we went
sifting and measuring. She taught me how to crack eggs
separating whites from yolks. She guided
my hand with her steady one, folding
the flour and sugar into the stiff egg whites,
saying it was like angels folding clouds.

But that is not what happened.
No apron, no patted curls. My mother mostly
watched me, sipping from an endless glass of scotch.
She yelled you dumb fool when I spilled the sugar.
Her hands shook while she cracked an egg,
dropping yolk into the whites. She stormed
out of the kitchen yelling I was too stupid
to teach. I heard her bedroom door slam.
There was no angel food cake that day. I played
pretend with my dolls, dressing them in wings.

Today I show my daughter.
We move slowly, taking our time.
Soft rain spatters on the kitchen windows.
She cracks an egg and shells fall into the whites.
Oops, we laugh and start again. We measure
and whip and fold, spooning batter into the tube pan
from twenty years ago. I tell her we must be quiet
and not peek for forty minutes. We play Go Fish.
The cake is perfect she says, looking proud.
I see an angel in front of me. I know she will rise.


Claire Scott is an award-winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and The Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.

Spring 2021