Wednesday, November 2, 2011

songs of mother

I'm slicing apples, mounds of apples, granny smith, winesap, red delicious, jonathan.  And I think of my mother, slicing apples is an associated memory and she recommended a combination of several kinds of apples for a worthy pie.  Walking into her kitchen on a Sunday with the roast simmering after finishing my eighth grade homework and grabbing a sugared apple slice from the bowl, green and tart, I never ate the pie, a cake person myself.  Marie used a fork to ventilate her pie crust, her mother cut thin parallel lines, I do the same.

That's my Princess sign and that's what my
father called me in my distant youth but I still had
to pay my own way through college.
 In the last few days before her death she and I attempted a rhubarb pie. I  was  standing next to her hobbled little body holding onto the kitchen counter for support, not realizing she would be gone from me in a just a few short days and trying to keep my temper as she barked out orders.  I rolled the pie dough noticing its denseness, knowing it would be tough and sluggish on the tongue but she would not let me add more water.  It's fine, you said, and I knew it wasn't, but I would not argue with such an ill woman, death in her features. The crust was stiff and I poured the sugared rhubarb into it's midst just wanting to excuse myself from this place, this tired sick woman, it felt so wrong.  I  watched you knead dough year after year, learning from you.  Later, she said it was the worst pie she ever tasted. The creatin was building in your brain, your thinking was askew. Well, not that awful, added my gentle ambassador father trying to make a happy ending.

I see you in my kitchen, wearing your Thanksgiving sweater, the one with the orange and brown leaves, a turkey pin on your shoulder.  "Start the gravy," you say, "put some tin foil on that dressing."  There is no one behind me now, just absence and silence, and it's so profound, Marie, I want to skip the holidays, sit on a bench by the river watching eagles. I do not want to be around people, they're loud and self-seeking.  Where are you,  Cameron sees you,  three years of age, why can't I?

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