a bizarre greeting, wasn't it?
bitten fingernails strewn across the floor,
leading her to the doorway.
On one side a whining schoolgirl.
On the other, a lonely mother.
There was an embrace so lacking in affection,
it almost caused a gag reflex.
Her eyes, sprinkled with grey hesitance,
danced around the room of sick.
The stench palpable.
"Where have you been?"
he asked grimly.
Her mind reeled, searched for truth.
She looked pleadingly into his bifocals,
where a large crack formed between his eyes.
Deep craters scattered about his face,
his lips blistered and scabbed. She shuddered.
"I didn't know," she explained. "I've been busy."
But her words did not penetrate him.
They hovered in the air, dancing arrogantly around her head.
She looked down, her humility a ballooning force.
She had lost track of his facial dialogue, the cues to speak
The next frame of the story,
all tension was gone,
all apologies in vain.
The cruelest irony of all,
both regrettable and cherished.
a sideways goodbye.
"Well, did you put onions in it?"
Mother will ask.
I guffaw her question.
Her breadth of culinary knowledge,
boils down to onions.
"No," I say, as I make my way to the pantry.
You see, I still dance in place in my own kitchen
devoid of an electric mixer or frying pan or crock pot,
when a sauce does not burn,
or a cake tastes moist and sweet.
I feel at ease when I can fill my home with
dripping, gooey, delectable aromas that say nothing but:
I can hear her smiling on the other end
when I rave about marinades
and people who like my food.
My own shock,
a witty repartee.
As I chop, diligently, after hanging up,
I contemplate the symbolic nature of the feat.
The layers, each one a salute to my naiveté,
a testimony to the notion
that she has taught me something.
She likes that.
She likes it more
that I call,
that she is there
to infuse my forgetfulness, my youth, my cooking self
with the flavor of mother.
Bridgette Holmes is an English
teacher who hopes to someday crawl out from under her pile of
essays and classical literature to teach creative writing to
young people. She is still experimenting with poetry and hopes
to focus more on publication in the coming years. Her poetry has
been featured in the online magazine Chantarelle's Notebook and
she was nominated in 2006 for Best of the Net to be published in
January 2007. She graduated from St. Lawrence University, with a
B.A. in English Writing and Plattsburgh State University with a
M.S.T. in Curriculum and Instruction. She lives in Saratoga