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
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
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
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
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
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.