Mashing for Five
She stood at the sink withthe big pot of steaming hot potatoes
safely stowed there for mashing.
She used a common implement made of
curlicue metal attached to a worn woodenhandle, known as the potato masher.
The noise that Mom made
mashing the potatoes for dinner
was a predominant sound ofmy childhood. Most nights,
some ten minutes before dinner,
we heard the mashing noise throughout
the house, a certain clackety-clack,clackety-clack, clackety, clackety,
clackety-clack that comes back to me now
clear as a hymn or a heartbeat,
almost jazzy, our mother orchestratingdinner, our mother so Irish and hard working,
mashing and fluffing, mashing and fluffing,
adding the milk and Blue Bonnet margarine
and giving the masher a final whack againstthe rim of the pot before setting it aside
to tend to the meat and vegetables.
Only occasionally did I notice
the little sighs Mom made, thosesick-of-cooking-for-a-family-of-five sighs,
of-potatoes sighs, but I write this poem
to recognize them now, and to celebratethe rhythm of her mashing so fondly recalled,
clackety, clackety, clackety-clack......
- Keddy Ann Outlaw
The photo above shows Mom with me, her firstborn. To see her so young and happy, joyous in motherhood, is wonderful, a tonic for my spirits.
I have to tell you, despite the sighs I wrote about in the poem, mashed potatoes were one of her favorite foods up till the end... She once told me she would love to just eat a big bowl of them for dinner, especially if someone else made them, which I often did when I visited her in the last few years of her life. Love you, Mom! And I will say again what I often said to her over the phone on Mother's Day -- Mom, thank you for giving me life.