Your Mother’s Kitchen
From The Practice of Poetry, Article by Rita Dove
A Room in the Past
by Ted Kooser
It’s a kitchen. Its curtains fill
with a morning light so bright
you can’t see beyond its windows
into the afternoon. A kitchen
falling through time with its things
in their places, the dishes jingling
up in the cupboard, the bucket
of drinking water rippled as if
a truck had just gone past, but that truck
was thirty years ago. No one’s at home
in this room. Its counter is wiped,
and the dishrag hangs from its nail,
a dry leaf. In housedresses of mist,
blue aprons of rain, my grandmother
moved through this life like a ghost,
and when she had finished her years,
she put them all back in their places
and wiped out the sink, turning her back
on the rest of us, forever.
Pass around copies of this poem and read it aloud. We’ve found that having a copy in front of them helps because so many are hard of hearing.
Now pass around a box of crayons and have each person choose one crayon. Keep passing the box around until it is empty. Each person should have 4-5 crayons to use.
Tell them to remember their mother’s kitchen, the oven/stove, the table (if there was one). Think of something green (plant, pot, apron, food etc.).
Think of a woman not their mother or themselves (Aunt, sister, neighbor, etc.).
And finally give them these emotions:
A time of joy
A time you were scared
A time you were loved
A time you were ashamed
A time you told a lie
A time you were lied to.
Have them write these six things next to their picture. Now ask them to write a story about what they just remembered. Give them about 20 minutes to remember and write. Afterwards, ask if any want to share what they’ve written.