Clean

I remember the 13 x 9 x 2 aluminum version
Carving out perfect brownies for a crowd
Or the glass model 8 x 6 x 2, the smaller size
For the rare few who stayed up late

I remember baked-on grease forever embedded
Into the fabric of the pans, creating their own
Modern artwork in a chaotic kitchen
The result of motherhood gone awry

Baking meant sustenance, but more than that
It revealed ingenious fortitude, cleverness and pride
Combined with creativity that surpassed all else
I remember that creativity, that strength

And I remember the love that went into each egg
Fried into a perfectly shaped circle inside a slice of bread
A circle that we called breakfast, along with crisp bacon
And always a glass of whole milk or juice, our choice

I remember taking turns at the bar, slipping onto a warm stool
In front of a previously occupied plate still wet with yellow yolk
That she shoved aside to replace with a new, warm toad
One that would be consumed in time to catch a school bus

I remember the burnt days, too, clouded with emotion
Fervent spirit doused for an hour or two, yet
Toad-in-a-hole breakfasts kept flying out of her kitchen
Into our hearts and souls, all four of us children

I remember her pans as I retrieve my own small one
From the dishwasher, not as clean as I would like
The glass still living with some of last night’s meal
My carelessness, the wrong machine setting

I remember we had no dishwasher then, a luxury,
Washed by hand, each greasy skillet or brownie pan
Thus why the grease remained, no doubt, what strength
Do children have to scrub away the toughest stains?

Tools at my disposal, I begin to work, fingers dry and sore
From steel wool combined with cleaning powder that
Lasts as long as I do to see every last speck of memory stain
Removed forever, or until the next chicken Marsala bakes

–Victoria Emmons, ©2017

L’Hiver (Winter)

Falling, falling, more snow falling on tables and chairs,
sidewalks and streams upon which I can no longer walk.
I am falling, too, as icy footsteps crush my head
and blur my vision to avoid seeing truth.

L’hiver. La saison m’amuse. 

Winter hides blemishes so easily. Covers the raspberry bush
where red blood once ran along my fingertips, so rich and
delicious, thorns made blunt by cold. Snowflakes fall as soft
as feathers floating in the wind, sparking joy and persistence.

L’hiver. La saison me chatouille.

Stairways and roads disappear into Mother Nature’s
white coverlet. She allows no one to pass beyond her cloak
for fear of getting lost. Never to be found again, and thus
clinging to all that I know inside the warmth of my thoughts.

L’hiver. La saison m’apporte de la joie.

Underneath it all lies expectancy, hope, renewal, new
beginnings, a battle. Cold prefers to conquer all, win over
spring’s desire to procreate. She lingers well beyond her
usefulness, clinging to possibilities.

L’hiver. La saison me rend mécontente.

Sustenance found in withered root vegetables, tin cans and
the last bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Meal fit for a queen.
Wedding soup on sale. Tacos, size small,
to be filled with whatever remains in the meat drawer.

L’hiver. La saison me rend triste.

Some will survive, will live to see another bright morning
of rose buds and bees. Not all will see the trees push out new
leaves, create shade once again to lounge beneath and write
poetry on a red checkered cloth placed neatly on the grass.

L’hiver. La saison me coupe le souffle.

Eggs become a way of life. Toast and lingonberry jam,
a proper cup of tea in the morning as no sun reveals itself.
Day moves into café au lait and settles upon darkness
and Malbec, ruminating about the journey of life.

L’ hiver. La saison du malheur.

Listen to what he has to say. No greater tragedy than he
who prefers the cold side of life when warmth awaits in the
shadows. Precious gifts are his in a smiling look-alike face
that sports a perpetual black moustache.

L’hiver. La saison me tue.

Icicles fall, one by one, in chilly drips on frozen bushes and
melting driveways, akin to my melting heart. Save him. Save
me. Awaken the ache of tragedy and scorn, embarrassment
and shame, throw it out the frosty window of hope.

Le Printemps. La saison des poètes et mécontents.


–Victoria Emmons, Copyright 2017

Grâce à mon éditeur Mustapha Seladji.
Photography by Victoria Emmons.

Flour

Flour’s in my candles
Wipe the kitchen down
Dusty piles of powder
Blowin’ all around

Ne’er thought I’d find all
That sifted, white ground
From drawer to floor
Floatin’ into mounds

But there it lived in
Every tiny crack
Chasin’ the day’s work
Breakin’ mama’s back

Pies and fresh pastries
Sweet raspberry tarts
Takes a lot of flour
And lots of false starts

Ain’t easy bakin’
Those cookies and cakes
Need a lil’ helper
For goodness sakes

Tie up his apron
Give him a good spoon
Young lad must learn
This cookin’ real soon

Flour goes a flyin’
Countertops to walls
Small fingers playin’
Makin’ castles tall

In between buildin’
Draw a shape or two
Learn to use a rollin’ pin
Pies for me and you

Smell the huckleberries
Picked right off the vine
Sprinkle ‘em with sugar
Add some brandy wine

Gentle with the crust, lad,
Crown must not fly high
Seal the edges now
Pinch, pinch, pinch the pie

Straight into the oven
Let’s all clap our hands
Flour rainin’ down
Formin’ mountains of sand

Forty minutes pass
Oven’s sweet perfume
Wafts throughout the house
Into every room

Timer wakes us all
Plates ready to go
The boy still plays
Apron fallin’ like snow

Thus my red candles
Got covered in white
Wouldn’t trade a speck
Of that wonderful sight!

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2015

Monday Night Promise

The doorbell never rings
As expected this Monday night
The steak is never grilled
Nor the wine poured

Baked potatoes are hot
Ready to devour with butter
And peas with lemon juice
Without the special guest

Anticipation nonetheless
Expectation and longing
Planning for days and
Preparation complete

Dress is selected
Pressed at the seams
Lipstick in place
Bouquet in a vase

The wait is endless
Count seconds on the clock
A Monday night promise
Tuesday morning tears