The Old Kitchen Drawer

In place of a recipe or advice on growing food for you today,  I have a poem for you.   No, don’t go!  I didn’t write it!  It was written by Kilkenny photographer Pat Shortall and if you were reared in a typical Irish kitchen, you are going to love this.

Sit back and enjoy….

The Old Kitchen Drawer

There’s a drawer in our kitchen; it’s full and packed tight, to open, use patience, some power and some might.

It’s a shelter, a stage, a box and a cot, where items retire, should they wish to or  not.

It’s the place to locate a bolt or a spring, the top of a biro, a crayon or pin.

A thimble or penknife, a nut with a screw, buttons and tweezers, a razor blade too.


It’s a shrine of importance, through the passage of life, as it witnessed much happiness, sadness and strife,

It was there when the children were tiny and meek; they pulled on it’s handle to pry and to seek.

So often it heard “Put all those things back”, a band of elastic; a ring from a brack.

A card with dog ears, teeth marks and chews; a rate arrears book for payment of dues.


An object from memory; before the mind fails, my mother’s possession, the poultry weighing scales,

Visions of plucking ceremonial food, as it hung from this hook, lifeless and nude.

There’s the little train engine I drove in my dream, fire in motion, belching black steam.

A single lost piece from a jigsaw of stars, two yellow doors from two dinky cars.


A bookie’s lost docket, a shilling each way, thoroughbred fleeting and failing to stay.

A selection of key rings, a tube of dried glue, a polish box lid and the eight of spades too,

A dimensional hound on a sixpenny coin, a card, Happy Birthday, today you are nine,

There’s an old pocket watch with inscription so faint, a rainbow tipped stick, for stirring thick paint.


Two photographs, once monochrome, linking compassion, love with home.

The first is a soldier in  military prime; wounded in battle, so brief was his time.

The second a maiden with beauty apart, sentenced in romance to life’s broken heart.

Remembered by image, forgotten today, questions most asked, who are they? who are they?


Choose from the drawer; there’s no guarantee, to serve moments purpose without charge or fee

A patch for a tube, a grommet and snips, a used cotter pin, staples and clips.

To sever some string; the old scissors must, best days behind it; cutting on trust.

There’s a prism like marble an electrical fuse, and chalk for the tips of Snooker Hall cues.


The scorched wooden spoon banned from the bowl, a picture of hurler scoring a goal.

A cigarette box; empty of course, a broken barometer stuck on gale force.

My sister’s small doll; beheaded when three; entangled with thread; neither are free.

Rubbers and pencils of colourful sorts, a bottle of fluid for removal of warts.


The many utensils that dwell in the pile, the contents alone bring tears to a smile.

This drawer brought contentment, it’s collection on view, a rich education and nostalgia too.

What happens to all when the drawer is closed tight?  Do they muse at us humans, at joy and at fight?

How do they feel when moved in their lair?  How would it be if the drawer became bare?


“Put them away” the same echo said, night after night, “go on up to bed”.

The years have recorded, the rooms rearranged, the drawer has survived, but much more has changed.

It’s sides have expanded, it’s timbers found swell; lift as you push, all will soon gel.

To date it in time, surely first war, the historic wonders in our kitchen drawer.


There’s a drawer in our kitchen, it’s full and packed tight, to close it, use patience, some power and some might.

                                                                                                                         Pat Shortall, Photographer and Poet

                                                                                                                          Kilkenny, 2013

5 thoughts on “The Old Kitchen Drawer

  1. OMG….this is so brilliant. Soooo Fabulous and true of at least one of everybody’s drawer. Would I be able to “steal” the poem and repost it ? I would acknowledge the author !

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