Northern Kentucky Winter

We always made fudge
at Christmas
opened the kitchen window
to dissipate heat of
the oven and the hot
stove. Melted butter filled me
mixed itself with that
late December pine
and the precipice of snow
convergence of deathly cold
and warm hearts.

Mom let us push backs of
chairs against countertops
so we could reach
let us measure, mix
spindly arms straining against
chocolate chips and taut
mounds of dough
and back then we thought we
were helping, tiny
sous chefs bustling about
and bickering over who
would stir in the vanilla;

but you did last time

then forgetting our tasks when
it was time to sing

Saaanta Babyy!

and I see now it
would have been far
easier for her to bake
each treat herself—temp
the fudge, crack eggs
mix in butter sugar chips salt
with her own sturdy hands

She opted for chaos instead
a lengthy evening
of spilled milk
flour on the floor
monitoring three girls each balanced
precariously on a counter, diffusing
our selfish-natured rows
salvaging near-ruined desserts
and then, when we’d abandon
our stations to dance
on the coffee table
-carefree and unaware of time-
she’d remain, watching over
our work, ensuring
nothing would burn
holding onto our memories for
safekeeping.

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