by Lynda La Rocca
Together, in the tiny kitchen,Second Place Winner
they are making pumpkin pie,
mixing sugar, eggs, and cinnamon,
the sea-salt scent of ginger.
Sweet orange custard scooped into a shell
of store-bought pastry —
neither having any longer hands
to shape and flute so carefully
a pie crust of their own.
Turkey — smallest she could find —
filled with what she could recall
of momma's stuffing:
corn bread, onions, sage, pecans
(they're too expensive, but she bought a handful anyway).
Potatoes steaming on the stove,
and in the living room,
set for two.
A paper spread
of pilgrims, red-gold autumn leaves,
disguises cigarette burns
and the cracks that score the plastic top.
Some mismatched silver, glasses,
and two plates,
all that remain now
of her china set —
a wedding gift that slowly, slowly shattered
through the shattered wedding years.
Today, she has banished her demons,
pills swallowed on schedule,
she can focus on the feast,
no phantoms leaping from her brain
to drown, engulf, pursue her.
Eyes clear, voice low,
she speaks in her own words,
and she understands.
She met her friend one month ago,
old woman, thin gray hair tied back
in drooping velvet bow.
She does not know where her children are.
they left no number nor a forwarding address.
The town turns away
at her approach,
too strident, angry, odd
for those unsainted to reach out,
to seek the soul trapped overlong in her abyss.
Two wounded and unwanted,
sitting down together,
bow their heads,
and they give thanks.
About the Author
Lynda La Rocca is a freelance writer, poet, and performance poet who lives in Twin Lakes, Colorado, with her husband, Steve Voynick, and Luz the dog and SunSpot the turtle.