Friday, July 14, 2017


Tabatha Yeatts is hosting Poetry Friday today. About a week ago, she sent out an email reminding Poetry Friday participants that today is National Macaroni and Cheese Day. Mmmmmm! I love mac and cheese, and that blue Kraft box is one of my favorite comfort foods.

As I thought about the topic this week, however, I kept envisioning two totally different snapshots. One had to do with how much I loved mac and cheese as a child, and how glad I was to be a "lunch at home" kid, because my mom often made box macaroni and cheese on cold days. Another image had to do with my sons, who I adopted at 7 and 9. At some point in their early years, they had evidently been exposed to real, homemade macaroni and cheese, which I don't think I had ever even seen. The first time I told them we were having mac and cheese, they were bitterly disappointed by my lack of culinary expertise. Somehow, those two images worked their way into this poem.

"Mother Love"

on cold winter days
I dash down Chelton Road
at lunchtime
knowing that my stay-at-home mom
will love us with blue box macaroni and cheese
and warm canned applesauce
mixed with cinnamon

i spoon applesauce
over fluorescent macaroni
then string gold orange tubes
onto the tines of my fork
and eat them one by one
while my mother fusses at me
not to play with my food
and reminds me
that I need to change into pants
for the afternoon's PE class

three decades later
stuck in rush hour traffic
i announce to my newly adopted sons
that we are having
mac and cheese for dinner
my boys draw threads
of some long held memory
and envision a steaming casserole dish
of stringy cheesy goodness
the likes of which I have never seen

later they wrinkle their noses
at my counterfeit chemical concoction
"This is not macaroni and cheese,"
they announce disdainfully
and for the millionth time
I wonder whether they believe
our cobbled, fatherless,
make-do family
is as artificial
as the blue box macaroni and cheese
of my childhood

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2017


Rebecca Herzog said...

Carol, I love this. It is a beautiful reflection. But did you really put applesauce on your mac-n-cheese??

Ramona said...

I loved frozen green peas (cooked of course) with boxed macaroni and cheese. I grew up loving the blue box too and that's what my kids ate. Love the "warm canned applesauce mixed with cinnamon." My mom used to can apples in the summer and then we would heat them, add cinnamon and a bit of butter and enjoy them in the winter with hot biscuits. You can't beat the mom and food memories. Lucky you - to get to to home for lunch!

Tabatha said...

There is real love shown in those artificial mac and cheese lunches, Carol.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Wow, Carol - how you took today's "theme" and made such a powerful, personal poem - as heavy and rich as the homemade variety. Really touching. I've always appreciated your frankness, and I believe you must have a heart of gold. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Lee said...

The tension between these two memories is palpable. Your last stanza brings both together in a heartbreaker.

Whispers from the Ridge said...

Vivid images, Carol. Your poem is reflective and emotional. Thanks for sharing with us.

Whispers from the Ridge said...

Such a reflective poem, Carol. The images are clear and full of emotion.

Kay said...

Wow! Such love wrapped up in this poem that ties together past and present. Or is it past and further back?

Carol Varsalona said...

Carol, it is amazing how one thought triggers another until a poem evolves. Yours is filled with memories and interesting wording such as, at my counterfeit chemical concoction. The last few lines sum up your thoughts so well.