j tate barlow
KITCHEN AT BEECH AVENUE
I reach for a glistening sliver—transparent as childish trust. Wiry ice-man hacks a quickblock—shards leaping spark-like—heaves it overshoulder from his wagon with forged tongs, sprints steep flights ahead of me and slides solidcold into our icebox. Over two days it will shrink, filling a wide drip-pan I’ll help carry (withoutspilling) to the shallow porcelain sink. At which, months earlier I watch my pregnant youngmother stand, raw hands cleaning and cleaning smelts. (Not for me their slick iridescence, deadmyriad eyes.) Each spring they spawn, running the Lake Ontario shoreline frigid midnights—silver roiling beneath lanterns and flashlights, then corralled in buckets or nets. Dad sits at the sage-green kitchentable in amiable anticipation of his catch served flour-dredged, pan-fried. Some future night I’ll lie awake in bed listening to my parents’ laughter below, the ruffle and slap of playingcards, the crunch and squeak of pried ice-cubes—from new refrigerator’s freezer—clinking in sweaty tumblers that impress on worn arborite, impermanent rings.
j tate barlow lives uphill from a Great Lake, moves to the music, and loves the heft of a good pen. Published poems appear in The New Quarterly, Vallum contemporary poetry, The Dalhousie Review, and other pages. judy tate barlow email@example.com