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

Maker’s Mark

The finish of my
father’s desk seems
old, perhaps original,
but some brush marks

hint at an ancient 
attempt to make things
new. I search in 
and out, up and down 

for a maker’s mark
or other origin clue,
but only find my father’s
mark. I had to open 

the lap drawer, get on
my back on the floor,
under the desk like
a history mechanic,

to see it.  
          Property of 
          David W. Moore
                    Purchased for $7.00
          Metropolis, Ill.
          Oct. 1962

in permanent
marker.  Already old 
when he got it at 
that flea market or

yard sale before I was
born. And now I have 
it, seven years after 
he left the earth,

and I run my hands
over the finish and 
read his handwriting
again from the iPhone

picture, and I remember
the he who would mark
his things and the
way he marked me,

and I sit here trying 
to shrug him off enough
to begin a story about

© 2020 Deb Moore, All Rights Reserved


I saw a picture of myself from childhood,

a picture I had never seen before,

a reflection of my seven-year-old self

frozen in time for 49 years

without me even knowing

it existed.  


A friend sent it to me.

“Just ran across this.  

Thought you’d want to see it.” 

I opened the email attachment

and looked into my own face,

recognizable, but unfamiliar.


I was sitting on a sled,

guide rope in hand,

forced to pose when really

all I wanted to do was race

down the hill

again and again.


I looked determined. 

I looked like I had a 

sense of purpose. 

I didn’t need anybody’s 

permission or approval.

I just needed to fly over

the icy crust of a 

Michigan snow.  


My father was in the picture

dressed in 1970s cool,

I suppose, 

if 1970s cool was

Siberian Robin Hood.  


My sister was there,

and the friend who sent 

the picture.  

I was glad to have the memory

of a day I didn’t recall,

of a time I couldn’t forget,

of a child I couldn’t remember.  


I wanted to race back 

through time 

to warn her

not to lose her Self. 

I wanted to tell her to 

never seek permission,

to always trust the sled

and fly down hills at

full speed.


I wanted to tell her

to savor each moment

like ambrosia with

a fast-approaching

sell-by date.  



she told me.  

© 2020 Deb Moore, All Rights Reserved