Poem: My Father’s Lunch

My Father’s Lunch
by Eri­ca Funkhouser

Sat­ur­day afternoon,
he’d sit at the kitchen table
in khakis and a workshirt.
White nap­kin, a beer, the ser­rat­ed knife.
Pieces of pro­sciut­to or headcheese
or kip­pered herring
lay­ered on slabs of black bread.
Out­side, the ripe hayfields
or the stacks of shutters
or the for­est need­ing to be cleared
or the snow need­ing to be pushed aside
lay still as they wait­ed for him
to fin­ish his lunch.
For now he was ours,
whether he smelled of chokecherry,
trac­tor oil, or twine.
He’d washed his hands
with brown naph­tha soap
and splashed water onto his face
and shak­en it off like a dog.
He’d offer more ham, more bread
to any­one who sat down.
This was work, too,
but he did it slow­ly, with no impatience,
not yet remind­ing the old­er boys
that he’d need them later
or ask­ing the small­er children
if we’d stored the apples
or shoved last year’s hay
out of the won­der­ful window
to nowhere.
This was the interlude
of near­ly translu­cent slices,
of lean­ing back in the smooth wood­en chair
and wip­ing white foam from his lip
as the last beads of beer rose calmly
to the sur­face of the glass.
We could see it was an old meal
with the pati­na of dream
going back to the first days
of bread and meat and work.
All our lives, my brothers,
my sis­ter, and I will eat
this same meal, savoring
its pro­vi­sion­al peace,
like the peace in the grain room
after we’d scooped the grain
from the bins, and the sticky oats
and the agi­tat­ed flakes of bran
had slipped back down into the soft valleys
where they would remain
until it was time to feed the ani­mals again.

From Pur­suit: Poems

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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