She says, "Your fudge is good,
but can you make caramel?
My granny used to make caramel."
I ask, "Do you have the recipe?"
She says, "She didn't use one.
I didn't pay attention.
I can't get one.
She passed away.
I should've paid attention."
She says, "Mamaw used to make chicken and dumplins.
Mine aren't the same.
Can you make biscuits from scratch?
Mine turn out hard.
Biscuits and dumplins I can't do.
Not like Mamaw."
"Can you bring us banana split cake?
The old-timey kind?"
He stands up in church and asks:
"Can anybody make divinity?
I haven't had any since Mommy died.
Do any of you ladies know how to make it?"
I can make biscuits and blackberry cobbler.
I can make fudge—
not too hard,
and not too soft.
I memorized the hands and the faces
as I memorized the ingredients.
Invisible recipes written on my heart.
I think I knew even then to
preserve them for later,
to put them up for a future season,
pull them out in the bleakness of winter.
Nanny's biscuits, Mamaw's dumplins,
Granny's caramel fudge, Mommy's divinity.
What they are really asking is:
Can you take me back?
Can you give me back