Days that glow with butter.

This poet’s experience was not my own, except perhaps during my brief visits to my Grandma, to whom I am forever grateful for not being a buyer or consumer of margarine. I can still see the giant pat of butter that she would lay on top of a baked potato that she had slit and pinched open to receive the gift.

That mystical event of the tiger spinning himself into a pool of butter on the ground was early etched in my memory, too. It’s a food with special powers.


My mother loves butter more than I do,
more than anyone. She pulls chunks off
the stick and eats it plain, explaining
cream spun around into butter! Growing up
we ate turkey cutlets sautéed in lemon
and butter, butter and cheese on green noodles,
butter melting in small pools in the hearts
of Yorkshire puddings, butter better
than gravy staining white rice yellow,
butter glazing corn in slipping squares,
butter the lava in white volcanoes
of hominy grits, butter softening
in a white bowl to be creamed with white
sugar, butter disappearing into
whipped sweet potatoes, with pineapple,
butter melted and curdy to pour
over pancakes, butter licked off the plate
with warm Alaga syrup. When I picture
the good old days I am grinning greasy
with my brother, having watched the tiger
chase his tail and turn to butter. We are
Mumbo and Jumbo’s children despite
historical revision, despite
our parents’ efforts, glowing from the inside
out, one hundred megawatts of butter.

–Elizabeth Alexander

butter art 97 crp

6 thoughts on “Days that glow with butter.

  1. Ah yes. I remember the tiger. 🙂 And now we find that butter is actually healthier than some things we’ve tried to replace it with. I’m all for it!


  2. Butter, definitely a golden gift! Have you ever buttered your coffee? It must be placed in the blender and pulsed till it froths … be careful, the heat wants to pop the lid right off! Delicious.


  3. Much to my embarrassment (this e word would be great in a spelling bee) my mother would tell that as a small child I would reach up to the counter and stick my finger in the room temperature butter and lick it off my finger. My love for the taste of good butter like Irish butter still carries a feeling of guilt with each luxurious pat.


  4. I’m a butter lover too. One of my earliest memories of butter was when my dad would butter the saltine crackers he ate with soup. I still love buttered saltines and have given the gift to my grandies. They like to eat butter right off the dish! Thank you for sharing this lovely poem! I’m saving it!


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