Tuesday Poem

The Kitchen Gods

Carnage in the lot: blood freckled the chopping block —
The hen's death is timeless, frantic.
Its numbskull lopped, one wing still drags
The pointless circle of a broken clock,
But the vein fades in my grandmother's arm on the ax.
The old ways fade and do not come back.
The sealed aspirin does not remember the willow.
The supermarket does not remember the barnyard.
The hounds of memory come leaping and yapping.
One morning is too large to fit inside the mouth.
My grandmother's life was a long time
Toiling between Blake's root and lightning
Yahweh and the girlish Renaissance Christ
That plugged the flue in her kitchen wall.
Early her match flames across the carcass.
Her hand, fresh from the piano plunged
The void bowel and set the breadcrumb heart.
The stoves eye reddened. The day's great spirit rose
From pies and casseroles. That was the house —
Reroofed, retiled, modernized, and rented out,
It will not glide up and lock among the stars.
The tenants will not find the pantry fully stocked
Or the brass boat where she kept the matches dry.
I find her stone and rue our last useless
Divisive arguments over the divinity of Christ.
Only where the religion goes on without a god
And the sandwich is wolfed down without blessing,
I think of us bowing at the table there:
The grand patriarch of the family holding forth
In staunch prayer, and the potato pie I worshipped.
The sweeter the pie, the shorter the prayer.

by Rodney Jones
from Transparent Gestures
Houghton Mifflin, 1989