[Originally appeared on The Best American Poetry blog.]
SOUP OF GLASS AND CHALK-STAINED SKIES
- Maybe you own a crockpot. Meals made in them are supposed to be nourishing. Chalky edges of plaster gape open around the hole in the wall next to ours. Crockpots are things mothers give to men newly divorced. Dad can’t feed us pizza and Campbell’s ready-to-serve with mini-sirloin patties anymore. We’ll be yanked back to Auburn, California or wherever Mom’s moving. The new boyfriend’s name is Dick.
- Cleave 2-3 lbs. of discount beef into stew chunks. Use a good knife. Dad says his problem with cooking is he’s never had to do it before. Top ramen with lunch meat doesn’t count. My eyes are fixed on his flimsy blade severing tendon and miniature arteries, soaking the cutting board with blood like bruises blooming. There’s another hole in the hallway and one in my bedroom. I don’t understand why we have to wait until we move to patch them.
- Quarter 4 medium potatoes and chop an onion roughly. Fish a pound of peas out of the freezer and hope they’re not frost-burnt. He slams the meat chunks into the pot with the vegetables. He sets down his sixth beer. He adds water. It’s supposed to be that easy.
- Add seasonings to your taste. Dad has a memory of Mom’s soups, hearty and simple, with a little love nip of pepper. He tosses in a handful from a pre-ground jar like he’s sowing a field. Take it easy, I tell him. It sits for the time it takes him to go on a beer run. Miracle, it’s done. He walked to get the beer. The last thing we need in this family is a DUI, he tells us sisters, slouched over our stools at the dining bar. It’s so full of pepper that it hurts. It’s like swallowing glass. Eat it, he tells us, I don’t want people thinking I can’t take care of you.
Nora Brooks is a writer whose work has been published in Poets & Writers, PopMatters, Monkeybicycle, Redactions, Alimentum, and The Best American Poetry blog and is forthcoming from H.O.W. Journal. She is an MFA candidate at The New School and lives in the East Village. This piece originally appeared in Redactions. Nora can be found online at norabrooks.org.