by Katherine Hoerth
In science class, I learned the earth was made
from dust and gas leftover from the sun’s
miraculous creation, that it scraped
together pieces of itself and formed
a feast of sea and land, of sky and life.
But none of this made any sense to me–
I’d studied the geography of worry
on the pages of my mother’s face,
the tilted axis of her head, a bend
of frown, a river bed around her eyes,
the canyons of her forehead as she’d find
once again month than dollars tucked
inside the somber cavern of her purse.
I’d come to understand that folks like us
made do with what they had inside their pantries:
scraping the empty peanut butter jar,
mouthfuls of stale bread, saltines with ketchup.
But how could something beautiful be born
of scraps, of what another threw away?
One autumn dusk, my grandma came to visit
on the last day of September, filled
the kitchen with her presence and the bustling
sounds of cooking—whisk on pan, a hiss
and cackling of oil, a bang of pots.
She emptied out the sack of flour, cracked
expired eggs into a bowl. She poured
a swig of sour milk and toasted bread butts,
declared the miracle of Sunday supper,
created from the nothing of the cupboard.
Pancakes rolled, a gold expanse of prairie,
a hill of butter, rivering with syrup,
fluffy clouds of eggs, plateau of toast
smeared with sanguine jelly. Grandma gazed
at my hungry eyes, my mother’s smile
as she came home from work to find this feast.
Grandma sat down at the table, sighed
said grace, and knew that it was good.