Provision

This entry is part 56 of 73 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2011-12

She texts, mid-month, to ask if she could have
a little more money for food, her cupboards
nearly bare, the floating exchange rate

up again— or down, depending on how you look
at it; but in her case, more applicably, down.
A twenty year old gas range that doesn’t work

anymore, and in its place a little hot plate
toaster oven. But how could you properly boil
water or soup in that, much less fry an egg

or a strip of meat? Crackers, bread, instant
coffee: she says a friend brings her these
every few days. The ceiling leaks in a house

that’s fallen into disrepair. One brother-
in-law made bitter by drink, one niece, a nephew
with a gambling habit, live rent-free under

her roof, largely neglectful of her
circumstance— who in her heyday shared
so freely of her larder, day to day.

Too far away, farther than any train’s distant,
watery whistle, I read her brief bulletins at night
as I lower the blinds; or, mornings when I raise them

to see blue sky felted between the arms
of trees. This is my daily trial, grave
failure through omission: how do I sip water

or coffee or broth, pass fruit or bread sweetened
with butter through my mouth, without tasting
the salt of her hunger’s quiet reprimand?

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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