Mother*

No one could hash eggs and bacon

and capture headlines over toast,

clean her plate, stack the sink

and designate the daily chores

surrounding us with aphorisms

broadcast to improve our chances,

quicker than my mom.

 

There was raw barley in her blood

that fastened her to earth no

matter how finances faded

when Father lost his wages

in the bars on the greyhounds.

 

Before my Doberman-infested

paper route began,

the cinnamons she twisted

were my only solace after school.

They slid milk-soaked

between tongue and teeth

and renewed resolve.

 

In the evening out of nowhere

her biscuits suddenly appeared,

flavoring the stairwell, announcing

a treasure guests said even honey soured.

She even made the dish debris

dissolve before dessert.

 

At dusk she down-shifted

glancing from the ironing at me

preening for a date. In a wink

we were face to face as she

smoothed boyhood flaws

before the final flourish when

she'd wet her thumbs with her lips

and slowly sweep my eyebrows

into perfect place

and whisper without words

in the heat from her cheeks

what I always longed to hear,

"He has begun a good work in you."

Jerome L. McElroy

____________________________________________________________________________

*Accepted Sunstone (mid-1999).