Trying to give, I fail too often.
But this day we prepare for you
food that your beloved often cooked,
made with the ingredients of 19,000
nights and promises of more to come.
These potatoes. That beef, the fruit.
Simple, and yet so difficult to reproduce.
Even the recipe is incomplete. “Some
mayonnaise,” it says, then “mustard,”
but not whether dry or prepared, and
the amount is unclear. Yet the results
transport you to stronger days, to
the clear-eyed self and limitless
possibilities, meals on the table
at five o’clock, the satisfaction of work
well done, knowing that you have soared
above your father’s imprecations
but never beyond love’s touch, her
sleepy murmurs, morning coffee,
burnished histories and late cigarettes,
the tulips on the soil you’ll soon share.
“Sunday, June” first appeared in the print journal Nourish in March 2018.
I liked it until “cigarettes.” That spoiled the feel of it.
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Ah, well. I don’t like them either, but they were an essential part of the poem — cigarettes killed my mother (lung cancer), but she wouldn’t give them up — and were essential to the last line, which is, as is the entire poem, addressed to my father. They now share a grave in San Antonio.
I had the same reaction, Jane.
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