April 16, 2014

Bobby Steve Baker




One Flesh                           


kitchen floor linoleum
worn thin
gramma’s        
uncomplaining preparation
of one meal decades long
always a smile on her round  face
she bore 13 children
nine lived
they stayed close so she
never stopped cooking for the farm
most of the food fresh picked or slaughtered
or preserved in the root cellar in winter

grampa held court
from his chair at the head of the table
or worked in his wood shop
he lost one lung
to a first growth maple he felled
near the Manitoba border
clearing land for the Trans-Canada
when he could walk he started back to work
a life-long railroad man
never missed a day through
the whole depression
no one argued politics
with the railroad man
the Conservative party ruled his world
and made for TV Wrestling was real

perhaps that careful breathing
allowed the ash on his roll your own
dangling from the corner of his mouth
to grow to well beyond an inch
before it fell unnoticed on his bib overalls
as we worked wood in his shop
always something just for me
being the only male child
of a male child
I was his favorite of course
or so I thought until
I found out all 29 grandchildren
were his favorite

their house floated like a dream 
the pantry  the root cellar  the smell of butter-scotch and peppermint
there was a multi-panel stained glass border
to the kitchen door
that changed the world by changing view
enchanting to a ten-year-old
ruby corn fields   deep magenta beans  
rippled yellow apples—
sometimes I still see through it

only once did I hear
the diminutive patriarch
call his wife anything but Mother
that was when at ninety 
he launched himself into her casket

crying  Hattie   Hattie   don't leave me

my uncles got him out
the funeral proceeded
he went home
went to bed    for one month
then to her

CP

Bobby Steve Baker is a Cosmetic Surgeon in Lexington, KY, having grown up on the Canadian side of Lake Huron. He holds an MFA from National University in San Diego. He has published in many literary journals in Canada and the USA including Grey Sparrow, The Boston Literary Magazine, and The Ann Arbor Review. He has published two Chapbooks of poetry, Numbered Bones from Accents Publishing and The Taste of Summer Lightning from Finishing Line Press. He splits his time between Kentucky and Southern Ontario with the comings and goings of five boys and a very large Airedale.