the pressure cooker prattles
on the avocado stove
while I help Grandma
set the table for ten.
All is green:
tiny flowers rimming plates.
I stack Roman Meal
and sneak a lick of Country Crock before she sees.
Grandma rolls thick dumplings
for the simmering chicken
and cuts them with a butter knife
before dropping them into golden broth.
I love their rich pillow softness
with sharp pepper and salt.
I look out on the garden:
corn reaching tall
tomatoes vining wild
cantaloupe spreading wide.
Our sweet and savory sides.
Grandma turns sheet cake
into Mississippi Mud
with chocolate icing and pecans.
I steal just one nut
and fix the ragged hole with my pinkie.
I turn round and round on the bar chair
kicking my legs
waiting for the family
Sunday dinner to begin.
Father’s Day, age sixteen
I cut you from the roadside
and mingled your bright orange stars
with lacy queen anne from Grandpa’s field.
I placed you in a blue crock
on the table set with cloth napkins
for my first full course dinner:
southern fried chicken and heavenly ice cream pie.
Your cheer matched my heart’s joy.
June, age twenty-eight
on an impromptu county road walk
with my two sons, one newborn in the stroller
I captured your beauty on film:
swathing roadsides in brilliant color
shouting to the whole world
your orange glory, and I remembered
He is making all things new.
A sixteen-year-old girl weeping
in the dark basement room
I didn’t understand
God watched me
through the ceiling
as if it were the cover
of the golden mercy seat.
If I could have sensed anything beyond
I would have breathed in
fragrant prayer incense
felt flicked sacrificial blood
trickle down my forehead
glimpsed Yahweh’s great glory
as the bright cloud settled above me
between cherubim’s shining wings.
Instead of tears for food
I would have tasted sweet manna.
I would have traded despair
for Aaron’s budding staff of hope
with healing leaves
from the tree of life.
Today light floods the dark room inside
as my Father rips the thick curtain
top to bottom.
* I referred to these Scripture passages in this poem:
Ex. 25 & 40, Lev. 16, Ps. 42:3, Mt. 27:51, Rev. 22:2