Einstein Brothers Bagels

Steam drifts from the open oven
fresh smell of baked flour 
and yeast trails over the counter 
to noses not quite awake 
this early in the morning. 

A jingle over the door precedes 
the homeless man who pilfers 
day-old bagels from the dumpster out back 
last night’s bed of dirt and grass 
clings to his folds and creases. 

As he makes his way to the bathroom 
to bathe in the sink, pink antiseptic soap 
masking years of sweat and hunger, the raisins 
in the bagels have never looked 
so plump. The curve of bread 
fits perfectly in my expectant palm.

Filling the Table

My dad and his brothers 
grew up in the North Country 

shooting rabbits so they could eat 
picking wild berries to keep 

their bellies from cramping. 
When you are poor enough 

you learn how to shoot so you 
won’t know how it feels to starve.

Dad taught us to fish and hunt
to filet catfish and dress deer 

to fill our plates and freezer. 
We planted a backyard garden 

to curtail the grocery bill 
sun-warmed peas sweet on the tongue 

tomatoes canned for the winter 
cucumbers pickled and flavored 

with dill or brown sugar and celery seed. 
We foraged wild strawberries 

and blackberries from the field 
across the driveway

both bowls and bellies filled 
with the sweetness of summer sun.

Recipe 12682: Apple Pie by Grandma Ople

I borrowed an heirloom
recipe from a family
of strangers so I can 
enjoy pie again.

I never met Grandma Ople.
My grandmothers were Joan
and Kathryn, and neither
ever taught me to bake.

My mother takes shortcuts
to give the appearance
she baked. She pulls pies
from the depths
of her basement freezer,
brushes a year’s worth
of frost from their boxes.

She pops them into the oven
to reheat and considers
them home-made.
She never met Grandma Ople either.

About the author:

Gabby Gilliam lives in the DC metro area with her husband and son. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Tofu Ink, The Ekphrastic Review, Pure Slush, Deep Overstock, Vermillion, MacQueen’s Quinterly, and Equinox. You can find her online at gabbygilliam.squarespace.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GabbyGilliamAuthor.

Feature image by Mae Mu on Unsplash