Bio Note: I grew up in small rural towns in Wisconsin, and one of my grandfathers had been a farmer. He talked about "putting up" in the fall, and I failed in understanding until I saw over a hundred sealed jars in the basement with apples, peaches, and vegetables I couldn't name and didn't want. I came to a greater respect of my grandfather and my grandmother and all of her work over a stove.
I eat scraps, second-hand half-sandwiches, coleslaw missing a single fork-dab, trials of fruit and charred asparagus, the slink, skunk, chunk, and burned hunks of meat. When someone’s eyes have grown bigger than his stomach, that’s when my plate opens like a landfill. I am the relative who allows the spoon of your mother to enter his mouth, the poison tester for the king. While others wait for pie or cake, I lick their plate.
Originally published in Whistling Shade
Whisks and Sticks
My wife bakes, scratch cakes, puffs and cornbread without electric whirr, just whisks and sticks, spoons and spatulas, beating, mixing, folding, stirring. I can hear her shirt flap when she beats, the oven sound once when it’s heated up, a timer set but reset or curtailed before completion depending on the test of toothpick or finger of rebound strength, the eyes assessing the golden edges. She ends with flour cast upon her shirt or pajama top, some sprayed on the floor being licked up by the dog, her hair blown back by lips that lack the angle to keep the strands in place, cheeks flushed pink.
Originally published in vox poetica
Blame my extravagant passion on the bread toppling woven baskets, broken, pulled, dipped, shared, or perhaps blame the turmeric and curry that wrap a jacket over the rice like yellow sheets twisted over warm lovers, or blame the pepper that emboldens my speech to make things sing with an earnest joy like the sun-shower chirps of small birds come to sift for small packets of seeds left by the last flowers, the long red slice of pepper shaped like a clamp that has seized my tongue and makes it run with stilted awkward speech like a marionette in the hands of an invisible master.
Originally published in South Broadway Ghost
©2022 Jeff Burt
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