Jennifer Cherry teaches first year composition and literature at a Midwestern community college. Her work has been published in The Storyteller Magazine, Mused, r.kv.ry quarterly literary journal, Mom Writers Literary Magazine, Tipton Poetry Review, and Haiku Journal.
In the Warmth of the Kitchen
I watch the bubbles rise then pop
on the top of the pancake --
edges of golden batter sizzle
in hot bacon grease. I learned
this trick from you,
the secret to the crispy-edged
buckwheat pancakes you used to make
before the MS,
before your hands became too weak
to wield plastic measuring cups
hold glass mixing bowls
grasp metal spatulas.
I have your buckwheat recipe
written down somewhere --
on a torn gas company envelope?
Or maybe tucked between pages
of your Good Housekeeping cookbook
with oil splatters across the faded blue cover,
along with your favorite wine-jello recipe,
found in a Christmas issue of Ladies Home Journal --
you took it to the varsity football banquet
unaware you were serving minors
before they were called jello shots,
but really, no one cared back then.
I turn the pancake over,
admire the dark brown, not burnt, crispy edge,
inhale the teasing warmth of vanilla.
I feel the crunch between my teeth,
against my tongue
taste the savory chased by sweet,
though I have yet to take a bite.
Lime green tape wrapping
the handlebars shows
black chain grease smears
no amount of hot soapy water can loosen.
I worry over the smudges marring
the once pristine color
and want what was before
the miles of gray road stretching long
into the distance, no clear markings
to ease my need
to know what waits
at the horizon,
the misery of ascending
until thin air brews protesting wheezes
within my aching lungs.
Before has vanished
with Lachesis' whim turning the crank,
grinding away minutes, hours, days
beneath the tires,
their soft murmurs against pavement
with whispered promises --
the black smears will have meant nothing.
mind body bike
an iridescent bubble
maybe redwoods or
foggy coastal beaches or
under strawberry fields
where migrant workers hunch,
ripe red berries
strains of bandola music serenade.