Maternal Family Tree

Steaming bowl of cream of wheat,

which I hate,

sat before me, pocked with grape jelly,

which I love and pick out.

The phone rang. Morning dark made

the jangling ring jarring.

I was ordered to keep eating.


So H.C. died, did he? Maybe

Grammie will live a few good years after all. 

Mama coughed a hard laugh into the phone,

and turned to me, Keep eating.


Snowball the cat got eaten,

by a fox. Champie the dog was shot

after biting my little brother.

Now H.C., the old man who scowled from beside the stove

spit into margarine cups

and exposed himself to nurses in the Home

was dead.


When Snowball and Champie died,

me and Mama cried.