A Very Special Recipe

Nebraska State Poet William Kloefkorn — Jennifer’s first poetry professor — submitted a poem about pork gravy. He said in a letter to her: “The making of good gravy is an art form; it is learned by way of osmosis, and it is passed along by those who don’t really give a rat’s ass how fat they are… Good gravy is divine.”

Porkchop Gravy

An Invocation

by Bill Kloefkorn


Not alone the blend of corn oil and flour and drippings,

and browned bits flaked from the chops, but

also the movement of the tablespoon in the hand


of your mother, movement and spoon and mother no less

ingredients than oil and flour, drippings and

bits, you beside her not yet a man but a boy tall enough


to watch the movement of the spoon, tall enough to see

the mixture in the black cast-iron skillet

blending, sizzling and blending, your mother with her


free hand feeding the fire with small sticks you gathered

this morning, not alone the sticks, but also

the elm and the walnut the dead limbs fell from, and


likewise the patience it takes for the blending, sizzle and

pop and your mother’s thick hand moving

the spoon in a circle, mother in a sky-blue apron


not seeming to know you are there, or if knowing, not

minding, until it is time for the adding

of milk from a clear glass pitcher, not alone the milk


but also the udder from which the milk derived, milk-

white milk flowing slowly into the mixture

of oil and flour, drippings and bits and pieces, steam


rising aromatic and warm, small bubbles forming and

bursting, patience sustained until the milk

and the mixture begin to thicken, and your mother—


she’s humming now, humming a tune you have heard

so many, many times, but can’t remember

the name of—slows down the stirring, slows it and


slows it until she knows what the boy doesn’t, that it’s

time, precisely, for the delicate process

to end, time to give way to what the boy has been


waiting so long for: faces in a circle at the table,

the hesitation, the nod.

The beginning.