Cooking Cream Of Wheat

 

This cereal I stir —

a mistaken market buy —

the kind she cooked.

Silk milk swirls, stove light

glows gold and ice blue

on waves the sheen of new

snow. With heat beneath,

a sweet smell rises. Foam

breaks out as alabaster

grains mix to thick

 

drifting memories.   I saw you,

flirting flapper, in the tarnished

silver frame. You were the eldest,

left coveted classes to help when

your father could no longer climb

into that bituminous pit. I saw

you sublimely posed,

in another frame beside

your white-trousered groom.

You combed my snarled curls

so hard, would not let me keep

the kitten.   Afraid of gas left

burning, or that I might fall.

You wrung clothes with the old

Maytag after work — Third Floor,

Ladies Sportswear, Better Dresses

in the cellar, in the night.

You washed stains

 

of my pubescent embarrassment,

said when sex was best,

thought yourself big boned,

became bent, shrunk.   That night

you woke in fright...

It’s OK, it’s me...I’m your daughter.

You, who could play a saxophone,

balance books, stretch a ground beef

pound, like loaves and fishes.   Here now...

cooking cream of wheat.

 

― appeared in The Coacella Review, March 2010