That ink stain
shaped like Kentucky,
on my Great-grandfather Orpheus’ library table
at which I now sit to translate Hebrew.
I wonder what he would think, this ancestor,
this “Beloved Country Minister,” his gravestone reads,
born a hundred years before me
in a time when it was expected that a woman
would pore only over Godey’s Lady’s Book,
I know you will pardon my long silence,
when you learn the important fact that I am at housekeeping,
or receipts clipped from newspapers,
add butter the size of a walnut.
Housekeeping as holy writ, butter as The Way.
His twenty years of writing sermons.
His wife, in the kitchen
creaming butter and sugar by hand
with a green-handled wire whip, blue bowl
tucked firmly against her side.
What caused it? Epiphany or distraction?
The Man called Jesus, or a scarlet
cardinal flown to the boxelder just outside
the study window singing, what cheer-cheer-cheer?
And Orpheus, did he call out to his wife?
Did she step out of the kitchen?