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My Mother's Kitchen

Honorable Mention 2017 Poetry Contest

Beneath the butcher-wrap paper
lay Formica of gray with black flecks,
and after my mother and her side-kick

Anita finished wrapping T-bones, round
steaks, sirloins, blade roasts and pot roasts,
they lugged in a 20-gallon pail of ground

chuck and slapped and laughed the meat
into patties, placing thin squares of paper
between each patty for ease of separation

when the burgers would go from freezer
to frying pan, before they taped an outer wrap
and dated it in black—my father’s

job would be to rotate packages in the freezer,
designate which heifer in the barn
could not be bred or milked or sold

but by next year would up end dead
in my mother’s kitchen while she and
Anita yakked and yakked, grateful

for the homegrown kill, the time to restock
the freezer for ten mouths, slaving
till sweat circled their arms, the little caves

between their bellies where they found
space to gossip about the sweltering summer,
the upcoming dance with a polka band,

a shotgun wedding, I Love Lucy,
and the growing pains of children
none of whom had yet gone vegetarian.

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Kathryn Gahl’s favorite things (besides words) are cooking, humor, Feldenkrais, open minds, red lipstick, and dancing mad hot ballroom. Her awards include The Hal Prize for fiction and poetry.

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