memorial for a brilliant woman

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Four Square

In my mother’s house, we used only salt,

pepper, sugar and cinnamon in food,

discounting what went into pickle jars.

Miracle Whip smoothed out rough edges,
and Velveeta was real as cheese got-
add pimentos and cut crusts for fancy fare.

Names might be exotic but the foods were not-
Heinz, French’s, Star Kist, and Mallomar-
the choice was to eat or go hungry.

Before TV trays, we sat upright, quiet,
in channel back chrome and vinyl chairs,
never told tales, ate what was put down.

All was right with the world at supper,
communists were up north, Cuba’s were cigars,
Ed Sullivan’s dour face kept the world righteous.

The unequal and indefinite angles of family
fell out of plumb in the dark, for daughters
cowered in corners to forget their outrage.

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