Serves 2 loaves

thinking about a serving. a helping.
two words to describe
the heap of food on one’s plate
yet also an act. the give &
pull of humanity, a great
chain—-tiny ants marching along
a white fence, paint peeling; a rare
ladybug flying past your face
with a stray strand of grey
hair; the lightning bugs we’d catch;
the cicadas, buzzing, buzzing; the
towering trees, perfect to climb with
scraped knees & callused hands; the
leaves that bud & grow in the spring,
fall in autumn; parents teaching
a child to walk; a child holding
the hand of an elder crossing
the street; church members
bringing over casseroles every night
because a mother dies; a prayer;
a distraction; a symbiosis

Favorite recipe from Mom

whose mom? young mother—-weak
& frail lying in a hospital bed
with no time to cook? sad, lonely,
& desperate mother—-screaming
& crying on her knees in prayer?
long, boney-fingered mother—-smoking
a cigarette while painting a boy’s
toenails? (don’t do that again -father;
you’re too girly -peers) a symbolic
mother? a tender touch, a hug,
being held, a full kitchen table,
a sanctuary?

Ingredients 1/2 c. shortening
                       1 c. sugar
                       2 eggs
                       2 c. flour
                       1 t. soda
                       3 bananas

neighbors hosting confused children
while the parents contemplate
life & death in the hospital. the
same neighbors, now, suffer from
cancer & dementia. warm blackberry
cobbler & lavender dropped onto
a pillow became methods of soothing
& coping. shirtless fathers mow
the grass, & children cry when a nest
full of baby rabbits accidentally
gets run over. every family has a
secret—-tossed in, talked about in
hushed whispers: the queer son who
writes poems & kisses men at night;
the uncle who smokes pot to ease the
trauma; the guilt-ridden grandmother
who had her first-born out of wedlock &
now evangelically preaches against sin
& about the bountiful love of christ &
questions if love is still holy when
the genitals are the same, when men wear
dresses & paint their nails, when gender,
sex, & love get mixed together instead
of remaining idle & unexplored

Method Cream shortening and sugar together.
Add eggs and mix well. Sift flour and soda
and add to mixture. Mash the bananas then
stir them in. Bake in 2 loaf pans for 45 mins. at
350 degrees.

a great aunt lives with another woman—-
close friends who smoke cigarettes
together & co-parent an orphaned niece.
a house built by a great-grandfather
long ago that used to not have running water,
inhabited by a multitude of children who
would run about the fields, over the hills, &
splash in the creek. a single father raised
two kids alone for six years. future
generations—-relocation, grandkids, great-
grandkids, recollection of old family fables,
gathering of family that is both self-made
& not. both funerals & weddings bring
everyone together. something newfound.

a recipe book sits open on the counter:
Title Banana Bread

i think about that fresh bread, homemade
cinnamon rolls, christmas sweet bread
to eat only that morning. shared kitchen
memories. family, generation-to-generation,
the shifts, the ebb-&-flow

the image of children laughing plays
in my mind, & i cook—-making something
delicious out of browned, mushy bananas