Bio Note: While I am currently focused on being a wife and mother, I fell into writing three years ago after my daughter’s birth. I write poetry and micro-essays on my Instagram account as well as my website. Writing helps me process womanhood, motherhood, humanhood, makes me feel most like myself, and connects me to others.
I’m standing in my kitchen, elbows resting on the counter, legs crossed. To my right, there’s a cabbage. Yesterday, while making lunch, I got a call from my neighbor. Quick, not sure how he got his nickname for he is anything but, an old, black man who spends his days sitting out in his truck. He runs landscaping crews around the neighborhood, employing ex-cons. He and his wife have a thirty-something son with autism who sits next to him all day out in that rusty, old truck. The call yesterday was to tell me he had a bag full of cabbages in the back of his truck, and if I eat cabbage, I should grab a head. This was not our first call on the phone. I sigh every time I see his name cross my caller ID. One of our first conversations when I hadn’t yet learned to distinguish his grunts and grumbles, growls and gruffs over the somewhat scratchy reception, I agreed to buy some oranges from him. I wasn’t sure what I had just signed up for but weeks later when neither he nor I had brought it up, I thought the oranges were forgotten. They were not. Literally, two months later he comes rumbling down the hill in that old pick-up, the whole back half full to the brim with boxes and boxes of oranges.The box one of his men laid on my porch astounded me– it was huge. I wasn’t sure how we’d ever eat that many oranges. My kids don’t even really like oranges that much. I had only said yes because I wasn’t sure how to say no. “How much do I owe you?” I asked. I ended up paying thirty dollars for a box of thirty oranges, thirty oranges we mostly threw away because the fruit flies got to them faster than we could. A few months ago, a horn honked outside my house. There was Quick in his truck. His wife jumped out, opened the back, and grabbed an individually wrapped frozen turkey leg from a literal garbage bag. “Here ya go, little girl,” she said as she handed it over to me. Another time, the kids and I were taking a walk up the hill to terrorize the neighborhood cat, when he told me to scoop a cup or two of beans from the box in the back of his truck into a grocery bag. And then he gave me detailed instructions on how to cook them, repeating the steps until I could repeat them back to him. But he rubs some of the neighbors the wrong way. Once, I was talking to him through his truck window when Cathy up the street waved at me discreetly. I waved back with a smile and kept talking. A second later she caught my eye again, this time waving me up to her. I finished talking and pushed my babies up to Cathy’s. She told me to beware of that man. “That man thinks he owns the street, that man isn’t very nice, that man has said some inappropriate things to some of the women on the street. Stay away from that man.” I haven’t experienced any of that from him, not that I don’t believe she may have had that experience with him. But that’s the story of why there’s a head of cabbage on the counter next to me. I’m not sure where Quick gets the things he’s always calling me about. Besides a few of those thirty-dollar oranges, we haven’t eaten anything he’s given us. That turkey leg sits in my freezer.
©2022 Voigt Miller
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to say what it is about the poem you like. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL