This is another one of my favorite prompts to try. Sometimes it confuses people because there’s no easy answer. As usual, I start with a list but you can brainstorm in whatever way works best for you. If you’re using the list to brainstorm, try starting off each sentence with the same phrase and then go back and revise it to make it more interesting. Or not. Either way works.
Write about what you don’t understand. Or use the line, “I don’t understand . . .” and see where it takes you.
I’m exhausted tonight but here’s my brainstorm:
I don’t understand how my grandmother always made all the food come out of the oven at the same time so everything on the dinner table was hot.
I don’t understand how to cook. It seems too much like math and makes my brain hurt.
I don’t understand how people can taste something, like a sauce and decide what it needs.
I don’t understand how to stir things on the stove evidently because a lot of things get stuck to the bowl.
I don’t understand the concept of heat because I always turn it too low and then when things don’t cook the way I expect I turn it up too high and things burn.
I don’t understand cuts of meat because I once tried to use stew meat as shishkabobs for an important dinner.
I don’t understand rice. It should be so easy but it’s not and my rice maker intimidates me.
I don’t understand cooking.
You might gather from my brainstorm that I’m no wizard in the kitchen. And you’d be right. I don’t like to do things I’m not very good at it and cooking just frustrates me. But husband, who does most of the cooking around the house, really enjoys it. I’ve gotten better over the years but I still don’t get the pure joy from it that he does.
Here’s my rough draft of a poem. It’s not much of a poem yet but I think I like the idea of exploring the two ways cooking happens in this house.
My husband whistles while he cooks
or sings along with the iPod
head bobbing in time
as he chops veggies
pounds the meat
heats the oil
a dash of this, a pinch of that
happy dancing to the fridge
for just one more egg
he studies the recipe
the way I read a book,
I don’t understand that at all.