Ted Washington


Grandmom is on the morphine drip.
One drop at a time her life passes.
One drop at a time my taste buds lose her.
My connection to past lives cleansed
from my palate one drop at a time.
Family held secrets, spice alchemy,
stove top techniques, skillet wizardry,
kitchen incantations, arcane dances,
dissipate one drop at a time.
Pear preserves in a Mason jar
canned with the double lid. I ate them
straight from the jar with a fork,
no toast or bread, discarding the cloves
and sucking the syrup from the prongs
…drip …gone
Tripe boiled then breaded then fried
then served as a sandwich; two slices
of white bread, onion, mustard, hot sauce.
A taste filled tug of war between
my mouth and hands would ensue
…drip …gone
Corn bled as the knife freed the kernels
from the cob. Kernels captured and
fried; a mixture corn starch, sugar, salt,
red pepper, lots of black pepper and
corn juice (also captured during the
liberation) melded in hot oil in a skillet.
The most delicious side dish that
I would make into a meal
…drip …gone
Sweet potatoes selected with care
and precision, just the right size,
skin unbreached to preserve the
integrity of the flesh for the plunge
of the stemless tuber; boiled, peeled,
mashed and transformed. The scent
of winter holidays permeated my senses
and pies too hot to slice were wrested
from the oven. The cooling wait
excruciating, so just below scalding
I would make my attempt
…drip …
Grandmom cooked, I watched.
Not all heritage is in a book, in the
blood, in the skin. Some of it is in
the taste buds, in the stomach and
on the plate. Grandmom remains
with me. The sweet potato pie is
not …gone.
I caught that drop. I can bake
a pretty good sweet potato pie.
Thank you Grandmom.


Ted Washington now lives in San Diego, after spending time as an apprentice draftsman for a beer brewery in St. Louis, an Internal Revenue Service employee in Springfield, MO, a retail sales representative in Denver, CO, and temporarily homeless vagabond turned baker on the beaches of Venice, CA. He is the founder and of Puna Press, a publisher of poetry and art that features several San Diego writers and artists. Ted also is a founding member of the performance art group Pruitt Igoe, who has performed in San Diego and Los Angeles area galleries and music venues.

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