It had to go, the sunless kitchen,
ceiling streaked yellow down the years
from Dad’s roll-ups.
His gnarled fingers pinched a pencil stub,
as he mulled over the Mail crossword
in the table lamp light.
It was a collaborative effort
and we filled in the gaps where we could.

And Mum in a headscarf at the stove,
a maelstrom of chopping, frying and shouting:
“Keep the door shut, darling! Keep the smoke in!”
She sprinkled love into the pan, but the oil sizzled
way beyond the smoke point, making us splutter.
Over time, a sticky layer of grease settled on
the Tyrolean jug lady, the tinkling cowbell
and the fridge magnets.

And now the light floods in, to my new open plan home.
It’s a cool, heritage inspired kitchen,
where spotlights pick out flecks of pink marble
and cast the dove grey units in a soft glow.
Engineered oak floorboards (Smell the forest!)
replace the fault lined linoleum.
Glass hatch out, breakfast bar in,
complete with three rustic high stools.

It’s called a Shaker Kitchen:
Shaking Quakers? Second Coming?
Dad would have laughed his head off.

Linda Kernan

Listen to Linda reading ‘Kitchen’ (1:48)


Linda Kernan is a recently retired EFL teacher, living in Hong Kong. She has taught in England, Tunisia, Japan, Hong Kong and India. She taught English at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University for 15 years. She enjoys studying and writing poetry. She is planning to move back to her hometown in Kent.

© text and audio 2020