After the Army, after the Ph.D. in Astrophysics
you started work at Lincoln Labs,
settled into your first apartment
and got a Siamese cat named after Wanda Landowska
and an antique Italian harpsichord.

In that tiny, dark kitchen, with a copy of Escoffier,
you began teaching yourself to cook.
Your mother was delighted–
sent you a stream of pots and pans,
skillets, strainers and steamers,
soufflé dishes, mixing bowls, baking pans,
and a full set of German kitchen knives.

And oh, the gadgets! Egg-beater, sauce whisk,
lemon-zester, cheese-grater and garlic press,
and that melon-baller!
For making fruit salad, I guess…
One end of it to carve out small moons,
the other–larger–to fashion planets.

Where I live now,
only this, of all your dowry, survives.
Most of the handle’s cheery red paint
has flaked off. Humble among implements
of stainless and Teflon,
it sleeps at the back of the drawer.