Mississippi Kitchen, 1950
by Tobi Alfier

Wood stacked in the mud room
and just outside, the artifacts
of teaching boys to be men,
earning an allowance
for malt shops and girls—
the meaning of Friday nights
in this small town.

Wallpaper tells the story
of hard work and young love.
Like rings of felled magnolia,
from the pride of courtship
to newlywed, not much
cash but an eye for yellow,
with tiny flowers, bouquets
of beginning families, to
grandparents to the elders—
their stories peeling away
in corners, layer upon layer

just as scribbles on the backs
of old photos tell who is who,
how they swore, fought and loved
in this very kitchen. Many a wake
and many a casserole served
to kin and stranger alike
in the stories of these walls,
with marks up the jambs to measure
boys to men, and girls to the young
ladies who now rule their own kitchens
with radiant grace.

All beginning with wallpaper
to match aprons, a wood table
for homework and whiskey
thereafter, an eye for the allure
of cathead biscuits eaten in rooms
the color of butter—
never much money
but generations of satisfaction,
idling over countertops and tables,
over hands still within reach.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

Copyright by Dallas Poets Community. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.