Can You Dig It?
Mustard kitchen counters outlasted
all my mom's 1970s design choices.
Long after the carrot-and-lemon flowers
had been replaced with rose and baby-blue blooms,
and the bold brown, yellow and white stripes
had succumbed to subdued slate and coral,
the yellow counters abided. As steadfast
as her love for us, born in that splashy decade.
Childhood boo-boos, teenage broken hearts,
adult worries, all discussed around that
gold Formica, as Mom cooked goulash
or tuna casserole or, in later years, vegetarian
nut cake or low-fat chicken stew. Always
leaning elbows on her most permanent
choice, as she bit her lip and read the recipe.
At times, I still visit the house
she vacated with her ghostly baggage
five years ago. Even in dreams,
I know I am an interloper. Somehow,
still possessing a key. Or maybe
I just let myself in through the sliding
glass doors, like always. So much
has changed. I barely recognize the place,
fresh with white paint. But there,
in the middle of new cabinets,
the counter presides, speaking to me
of endurance, or that butterfly hope
trapped in the rib cage of memory.
- January 5, 2021
For those who like, you can see and hear me read it here. Please ignore my bedhead. I've been sick with the stomach flu today.