Peaches and Above the Hearth

Rachel Brown


The last time I saw her
as herself,
she was beating softened butter into eggs,
aggressively against the sides of the white bowl.

I was measuring sugar and flour with a knife,
ensuring evenness. Exacting and patient,
she would double check every
measured thing. We had done this
many times, our
system never changing.

She had it all—the flour sugar brown and white baking soda chocolate chips—
in repurposed pickle jars—her home full
of repurposed things.
I eased soda out of the box, flat smooth on the tsp.
She announced that might be her last year-
of christmas cookies, gumdrop cake.

She called my name from her chair as I sliced a gumdrop in half.
I don’t remember much after that.
I miss canned peaches, in white ceramic bowls,
eaten under a pear tree, fresh green grass.
I asked my mother if she knew
how to can peaches.
yes, she said,

I have derailed before,
but nothing prepared me
for a life without peaches,
in mason jars, repurposed.

I sat in her kitchen
yellow countertop before me,
further and further
from the perfect golden globes
of peaches,

Above the Hearth

the oasis of secret dairy queen onion rings
eaten in laughter and the smooth scales
of wild salmon, heavy in novice hands.

the squeeze of dirty fingers on greasy clamps
building low forts above growing crowns and the
soft clink-clink of a cookie jar lid replaced
without stealth, stolen cookies in each hand and third
hidden in the breast pocket.

the golf channel on low, narrated between
snores on sunday afternoons and crab boiled in a gravel driveway
beside the vegetable garden in full bloom and
purple fingers licking blackberry cobbler
on july nights.

teaching small fingers to tie small laces on warm
couch cushions and black pepper evenly,
heavily spread across dinner plates

a stuffed king salmon mounted above the woodstove
a warm hearth.

Rachel Brown holds  Bachelor’s degrees in Creative Writing and English Literature, as well as a Master’s degree in English Literature from Central Washington University, where she also taught composition. Her creative work appears in Northwest Boulevard and Okay Donkey. She is currently reading, writing, and running in Eastern Washington.

Originally published in Moss: Volume Six.

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