M. Elizabeth Hershey
SLEIGHT OF HAND
My father husked corn the way he shelled
crab, two buckets on the front stoop,
bent over the shiny silk or glistening red
shells, the bigger bucket for compost,
or the sandy drive where oyster backs
already cushioned the tires on his old
bomb of a truck. His gusto, something
to behold, hands deep in the yield, snapping
cobs from stubs of stalks, halving the hot
crabs, coveralls splashed with brine
or beet juice. Limp tops were already set
to mulch strawberries and dahlias late-
blooming by the barn, quelling upstart clover.
My mother interrupted her piecrust, retrieved
the smaller bucket, rinsed it through, gingerly
simmered butter on the wood stove, then
served up platters of plenty, a dash of parsley
from her stash near perennial daisies.
His prayers always dished out gratitude
for the earth and sea, for the floured hands
coupling his in the kitchen. They echoed words
from an earlier time, parsed over a wood
table in need of paint, but graced by cloth
napkins Mother would have ironed
the day Dad tossed his black bag
in the jalopy, drove to a farm far out
the old county road. He worked his magic
with boiled sheets, and brought home the beef.
Carol Barrett holds doctorates in both clinical psychology and creative writing. She coordinates the Creative Writing Certificate Program at Union Institute and University. Her books include Calling in the Bones, which won the Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press, Drawing Lessons from Finishing Line Press, and Pansies, a work of creative nonfiction, from Sonder Press. Her creative work has appeared in JAMA, Poetry International, Poetry Northwest, The Women’s Review of Books, and many other venues. A former NEA Fellow in Poetry, she lives in Bend, Oregon.
M. Elizabeth Hershey is a Philadelphia-based freelance photographer who specializes in events and weddings. She continues to pursue artistic endeavors from inks, painting, and paper designs to different photographic projects.