This Morning

This morning, curled around
 the back side of you,
 face against shoulder blade,
 the smell of your warmth
 mingling with my breath,
 the familiarity moved me. 
 I wrote lines about it in my head,
 though none return now as naturally
 as they rose from the ashes of sleep.
 The cat saw I was awake
 and climbed my body
 to haunch under my chin.
 You roused, looked at me with narrow
 sleepy eyes.  My fingers slid along your arm. 
 “Hands cold,” you mumbled. I
 pulled the covers to your shoulder and
 caressed the parts of quilt now shaped like 
 you, but the dogs had heard us,
 and they whined and pawed the crate door.
 So I arose and set the day in motion,
 took the dogs out, fed them,
 opened the blinds, started coffee,
 checked the weather, dressed.
 Soon you are up, and thus we begin
 another day we will live together.  Granddaddy 
 used to say, “Everything gets over with.”  
 And I know this will too.  One day.  
 But not today. This morning started 
 with the smell of you, and what will someday end 
 was today everything I could count on. 

 © 2021 Deborah E. Moore, All Rights Reserved 

Exposition of a Modern Time

I’ve read this book.  
I can’t remember who wrote it.
King? Atwood? Orwell?  
If the three of them could 
have a love child
(surely possible in
this narrative),
and if that love child
wrote a book,
this would be it. 

A dystopian future
complete with a virus,
an insurrection, 
fearless mobs, 
cages of children,
knees on necks,
conspiracy theories behind each,
families divided
like the blue and the grey.

I lived 55 years in a dormant
volcano, mistaking quiet for death. 
What needs to be sacrificed to
the gods to put them back
to sleep? Whom should we throw
from the ridge?

We don’t even talk about the
“new normal” anymore.  
It’s passé.
We make adjustments
that may be permanent
Who knows? 
We hang on  
to shards of hope. 
A vaccine. 
An inauguration. 
A miracle. 
Garden hoses 
aimed at rapids
of lava.

Each climax, the 
narrative arcs up
again. Chapter
after chapter of 
rising action, new
inciting incidents, still 
more characters. 

I need John to smoke a doobie
and bring the revelations.
I need denouement. 
I need the movie rights sold
and that film to stay in the can. 
I need a final chapter, 
loose ends tied up
in neat little bows.  

They lived 
happily ever after.  

That was the
ending they promised
us in the seventies.
In the middle-class seventies.
In the white middle-class seventies. 
Wars and epidemics and despots
lived only in history books and 
countries with jungles.  
They never told us we 
were children living 
on the blank page
between chapters.

I’ve read this book, 
but I’m only now living
this story. 
I don’t recommend it
right before 

© 2021 Deborah E. Moore, All Rights Reserved

Shepherd’s Pie

Twice I’ve had shepherd’s pie.  
The first time I was maybe three, 
probably two, 
back when children graduated
from high chairs much earlier and 
rode bikes with no helmets. 
Back when I stood in the middle 
of the bench car seat holding onto 
daddy’s shoulder while he drove,
his extended arm my only
seat belt. 

The pie was mother's attempt to
make something special 
on a meager grocery budget. 

when we were down to our last mason jar 
of green beans, 
my sister and I, toddlers, 
mom made the green beans, 
seasoned them as if part of a grand meal, 
set the table, 
poured the tea, 
put the beans in a glass serving dish 
          (a cookpot on the table would never do), 
lifted the dish from the counter, 
and then, 
hands wet, 
the glass slipped, 
and the green beans exploded on the kitchen floor, 
spiced with shards too splintered to remove.  
And mom sat down right there
in the middle of the green beans 
and cried. 

The shepherd’s pie happened
around the same time. 
Sixties food wasn’t fancy.  
Grocery stores didn’t stock 
arugula and truffle oil and quinoa. 
Life was more 
meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  But,
shepherd’s pie, it was
all mixed together.  
And was that a pea?
I didn’t like it on sight.  
Dad said, “you eat 
what your mother prepares.” 
I tried and gagged. 
My sister and I slumped in our chairs 
and stared at our plates in terror. 
Dad dug in. 
“You will sit here until your plate is clean.” 

Hours passed.  
Still we sat.  
Still dad glared.  
I think we ate it, but I don’t remember.  I just remember
The sitting and the staring and the glaring.  

Years later, dad said, 
“I sure made some mistakes,
and there are some things I wish I could change.  
I would never have 
made you girls stay at that table and 
eat something you didn’t like, for one thing.”  
His 60-year-old self 
was now embarrassed 
by his 23-year-old choices.  
All I know is 
his stubbornness, his mistake,
made a day I remember 
in a childhood 
I have largely forgotten,  
a bookmark in my story, 
the clearest picture I have 
of my boy father. 

Last night, Nickie made shepherd’s pie.  
She didn’t know the story.  I told her -- 
smiling, laughing, remembering, I told her.  Then
I tasted shepherd’s pie for the first time. 

And then I went back for seconds. 

© 2020 Deborah E. Moore, All Rights Reserved