A Summer Up at the Big House


The roar of the air conditioning unit muffled her words

As she bequeathed to me the art of biscuit making.

Scrawny, four year old knees

Pressed into the woven bottom of the ladder back chair.

The sweet maple scent of frying sausage patties

Hung heavily in the air and clung to the bright,

Yellow sundress that hung loosely from my sparse form.

Petite hands, devoid of feminine beauty, hands once

Stained golden brown from the sticky leaves of tobacco,

Hands cracked and splintered by the rough handle of

An ancient garden hoe, my great grandma's garden hoe. Those hands

Knead the dough with a gentleness that betrayed the whipping

I received the day before for letting the screen door slam.

Each doughy mound received a gentle slap;

Three fingers moistened their tops with buttermilk.

What's that for, Grandmama? Makes 'em brown better, dollbaby.

My own hands small, but tipped in a blinding pink and

Bronzed by leisurely play in the sun.

I mimicked her movements; clumsy attempts to

Form my own little piece of family legacy.


Melissa Richardson