Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thank You So Much

At the food pantry you don't say no.
You say, 'Thank you, ma'am, thank you so much.'
And you put the offered food in your box, and you try to show
that even though you need the food, your mama
raised you right, that you've got manners.

Thank you, ma'am. Thank you so much.

For the frozen chicken, the peas and the
day old baked goods and bread. Thank you
for the cans of juice, the spaghetti and sauce.
Thank you so much.

The block of frozen chicken comes with a recipe. 

Simmer in water until the meat falls from the bones.

Add one can of diced tomatoes and serve with spaghetti.

USE TODAY said a bright orange sticker.
Use today.  So, we did.

We did simmer the chicken, until the meat fell off the bones.

The skin fell off, too. There were so many bones,
thin fingers of bone, long strings of ropy veins. Falling
off the bones.  More bones than anyone would think were
in one chicken.

The recipe said to add one can of diced tomatoes.

So, we did.  Serve with spaghetti.
So, we did. We boiled spaghetti and served it with
this - this mess - of meat and bones and diced tomatoes.

The recipe didn't say how to eat the meat.  We served it

with the spaghetti.  I left the room to cry for a minute.
Came back and told my children to eat the meat with their fingers.
To use their manners and eat the noodles with their fork,
Told my children not to eat the bones.
Just the meat.

Thank you so much.

snapshot, 1970

there is a snapshot of my little sister
drinking a coke out of a green glass bottle
in the back seat of our gold dodge dart.
she can't be more than three, so there is a little thrill
of "Jesus, should that little tiny kid be drinking a coke?"
but I know my dad handed her that coke
and that it was a nice cold one right out of a gas station cooler.

I want to wash my mouth out with that cold coke

and sit back with my head on the headrest
and ride down the road without a seat belt
listening to a preacher on AM radio
telling us that Jesus loves us.
I want to ride in the back of that car
with my dad at the wheel
and my sisters beside me,
my mom up front nursing my brother on her lap.

I want that snapshot to hold all of us

in the coke colored amber of that moment.

About Wendy G. Ellis:
Wendy G. Ellis was born and raised south of the Mason Dixon line and now lives just north of it.  Her checkered career includes professional knitting, working in state parks, full time parenting, writing, and, most recently, editing the online poetry journal Unshod Quills. Her work has appeared in Housefire, HALiterature & Unshod Quills.  She is working on a collection of stories and poems about a fallen tree.

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