Preferring canned vegetables & frozen
meats such as fish sticks, my mother
wasn’t much of a cook, but she had a medley
of specialties—Sloppy Joe’s for a Saturday

lunch, pecan pie with whipped
topping for my sister’s
birthday, lemon meringue
for me. There were times

she rejoiced like a teen—the first time I got an S
instead of a U for conduct or when my sister
paraded with the junior
marching band down Main clutching her new

clarinet, the blue & gold wool uniform drenched
with sweat but she’d hit
all the high notes. That’s when
mama plunged into her recipe

box hunting for a clipout
for apricot bars. The instructions
were cut with pinking
shears from Redbook, stained

from splats of preserves & pure
vanilla. I remember spooning
walnuts & sugar into the sticky
orange concoction & then spreading

big blobs of it over buttery
hand-pounded dough. The zippy
tang of them so unlike the sweet & mushy
homegrown peaches in our factory

town with its 1950s bricks & three
stop signs. We can’t grow
them here, mama explained
as they bubbled in the oven. You have

to go to Mexico for fresh ones & most
are grown further away—Turkey,
Armenia, Morocco.  I imagine mama
looking up apricot in the Book

of Knowledge & grabbing
the M volume to find Morocco. The coy
grin when she announces,
Now these are exotic.