Earlene Simple's packing Jake
into a pizzeria-style cheese
shaker, Depression era, each
clear glass rib magnifying Jake's
powdered bits and flakes. Earlene
spoons her husband from his canister
with a yellow sugar scoop, the one
she earned as a hostess gift in 1962.
Jake hated Tupperware, its
indestructibility. Men fear anything
that might outlast them, Earlene thinks,
unless they've made it with their own
bare hands. She thrusts the scoop
into Jake's scratchy grit, recaps
the lid. Even then. Parks
the canister next to the flour.
Threads tight the shaker top. Lefty
Lucy, Righty Tighty. Jake was a plumber,
insisted on sticking his awful
magnetic signs to the doors of her Buick.
He had his own damn truck, she'd argued.
She mashes her broad-brimmed hat
onto her head, grabs the shaker
and sack of tulip bulbs from the counter.
She'd hired the Jameson boy to dig
fifty holes. Fed him tuna sandwiches
and cherry Jell-O salad. He washed up
before lunch in the laundry room. She'd
brought down one of Jake's old sweatshirts,
was startled when the boy peeled off
his sweaty T-shirt before she left
the room. So firm and brown. Earlene squashes
a bulb upright into its hole, shakes Jake
liberally. In with you both. She refuses
gloves, likes to feel what she's doing.
On her knees in the garden, grit and soil
packed under her nails, her husband
in the dirt. Surrounding her. Such appetite.
Ron Mohring has had work published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Artful Dodge, Maize, Pool, and Southeast Review. His poetry chapbooks are Amateur Grief, The David Museum, and Beneficence; his full-length collection, Survivable World, won the 2003 Washington Prize and is expected to appear in 2004 from The Word Works Press. The recipient of the 2003 Oscar Wilde Award from Gival Press, he teaches literature and creative writing at Bucknell University, where he is Senior Associate Editor of West Branch. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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