Poetry in English
Maria Mazziotti Gillan
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Maria Mazziotti Gillan
How the Bride Learns to CookI didn’t learn how to make a roast until after I was married. My mother was an incredible cook and she’d let me help her for two minutes, then she’d get annoyed at how inept I was and tell me to go out of the kitchen. Up until the day I got married my mother poured my milk and buttered my toast. Once I went to NY with a college friend and she took me to a cafeteria in a basement in the Village. I had roast beef with gravy and white bread. I had never had roast beef before, and this thin-sliced beef tasted delicious to me. I kept exclaiming over it. My friend stared. When I got home, I told my mother about the roast beef I’d had so she bought a roast. She asked a neighbor how to cook it. It came out shriveled into a brown lump the size of a softball. She went back to making the food she was so good at cooking—homemade macaroni and meatballs and braciola and spinach and potatoes. My mother-in-law, American and upper-middle class, taught me to cook the food my new husband was used to eating—roasts and baked potatoes and canned corn and peas, pork chops, lamb chops, anemic iceberg lettuce salads. The first time I cooked bacon and served it to Dennis, it was black and burned. I saw his face. What’s wrong with it, I said? That’s the way it’s supposed to look isn’t it? I invited my sister and cousins and mother–in-law for lunch one day the first summer of my marriage, and I cooked a chicken. When I was getting it ready to serve, my sister came into the kitchen and gasped. Something smells off, she said, and bent to examine the chicken. Oh, Maria, didn’t you take out the bag with the innards before you cooked it? I didn’t know there was a bag inside the chicken that held the neck and the gizzards and that you were supposed to remove that bag and soak the chicken in salt water. What am I going to do? I said, tears forming in my eyes. Don’t worry, she said, we’ll order a pizza. Then we went out to the patio and told the ladies lunch was going to be late, and when we told them what happened, they laughed and laughed, though they tried at first to stop themselves and then couldn’t . I tried to laugh too, pretended I didn’t mind, ignorant, young married, and already pregnant, though I didn’t know it yet, how ashamed I was. How little I knew. How much I had yet to learn.
Why I Love High HeelsI love high heels because they’re sexy and elegant, especially on tall,
slender women with long, narrow feet and slender calves.
I love high heels on women who wear short skirts
and nylons, their beautiful legs and feet set off
by their high heels tip-tapping on marble floors.
I love high heels because I used to wear them
when I was young, we all did, and they added
three inches to my height.
I love high heels and would like to wear them again, but can’t. My feet
have widened considerably as has the rest of me, and I’ve grown into
my wide wide
sandals, flat-soled, of course, and would not try wearing high heels
for fear of breaking my neck.
Anyway my chances of looking sexy vanished twenty
years ago. When I broke my ankle, I hated wearing
a cast and using a walker and worst of all, having
to ask for help, and I won’t chance it again, though
I love high heels and in another life, I plan to be tall and slim with
narrow feet that never hurt and a closet full of high-heeled shoes and
and the long legs to go with them.