Iron Skillet by Donna Hilbert

Iron Skillet

I’m cleaning you now
with coarse salt and a paper towel.
Skillet of my mother, grandmother,
and her mother before her.
You’ve fried chickens
raised, killed, plucked, dressed
on farms, in backyards
by generations of women whose children
watched in fascination and fear.
You’ve fried bacon, eggs over easy,
baked cornbread, baked biscuits, grilled
sandwiches, fried fold-over pies for
farmers, mechanics, civil servants, teachers.

Last night, I blackened a sea bass
on your flat belly where tonight,
potatoes and carrots will nestle and roast
while an omelet browns on top of the stove.
Skillet, trusty instrument of nurture,
I praise your amazing utility, plurality
of purpose, example of endurance.
How easily you fashion meal after meal,
serve us, feed us, re-season, restore.


Donna Hilbert’s latest book is the just released Threnody, from Moon Tide Press. Earlier books include Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributing writer to the on-line journal Verse-Virtual. Work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Braided Way, Chiron Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, Rattle, Zocalo Public Square, One Art, and numerous anthologies. Poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and on Lyric Life. She writes and leads private workshops in Southern California, where she makes her home, and during residencies at Write On Door County. Learn more at

One thought on “Iron Skillet by Donna Hilbert

  1. Joy in praising what serves us–and oh the legacy of love in that skillet, generations of love served as food. Beautiful poem, Donna.

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