By Karen Kenyon
Coming from Ireland
the potato brought its pain,
all those it couldn’t feed —
the slimy boggy earth,
all those who said goodbye.
Landing at the market
in our dusty little town,
brought home in a brown paper bag,
it waits for my mother’s paring knife.
Like the worst of prisoners, of evildoers,
it will be skinned, boiled, beaten.
She will hold the knife and begin
this task she
doesn’t want to complete.
Music of the day
is already playing in her head —
how can she hold it all in
and do this task?
Her fingers yearn for the black and white keys
waiting like an altar in the living room.
But it is dinnertime. She is a wife, a mother,
with no money to have gone to college
to study her love — of notes,
of rhythm, melody, harmony, beauty, emotion.
The potato waits,
its fate set/sealed.
My mother begins
peeling away her hopes,
cutting in half her dreams,
digging out the eyes of promise.
The water is heating,
beginning to boil,
Soon there will be transformation,
holy steam will rise.
Soon, some kind of nourishment will be given,
some kind of sustenance offered.