Christmas Eve in Dad's Kitchen

and now only I know which bits of Delia
we follow, which we skip, and what

The Dairy Book of Home Cookery (1968)
still knows best. I know to find the stump-handled

jug for the cranberry jelly, and why eight pints
of milk is probably just enough, factoring in

bread sauce and white sauce and people
wanting extra cups of tea because so much

rich food is bound to make them thirsty.
I know how to arrange the little cottage

on the cake beside the bald tree, and Santa
listing up the piped path, know even to dib

the two sets of hoof-prints behind his reindeer.
I know when to fetch the turkey from the garage

to warm up, and what she would have done
with the giblets, which I won’t.

When everyone’s asleep, only I know
I open the jar of cloves she sealed last year

and breathe her in. It almost works.