Always, when I visit now-a-nights,
I come upon a new door, a new room.
Last time, it was the corn chapel, with its edible cross;
one other time, a cellar space of light;
and this time, a bloated kitchen,
its tremendous fixtures dwarfing me.
I can’t seem to reach anything, Mom,
not even on tiptoe.
I won’t be able to help with the pour or the mix.
Fix me a drink, Dad.
Fix me a Shirley Temple mocktail
from the days before the bankruptcy and the arthritis.
Smoke gets in your eyes—
let’s put it on the Victrola.
Or Ja da. Always Ja da.
Are these my sister’s pop beads around my neck
or an elastic choker strung with sweet pastilles?
I see it, Dad! You’ve made a secret staircase,
and I know just where it winds to—
the weedy sideyard
where I dug for slugs with little boys
and plucked from a jack-in-the-pulpit once
its sticky, jiggling spike.
Those cardinal steps!
That’s how I’ll leave, Mom;
I’m always and I’m never coming back.
–Kate Bernadette Benedict
Kate Bernadette Benedict, of Riverdale, New York, is the author of Earthly Use: New and Selected Poems, published in 2015. Her previous collections were Here From Away and In Company. Kate edited the erstwhile poetry journals Umbrella and Tilt-a-Whirl; the archives remain online and are linked from her home page at www.katebenedict.com.
–Art: “Tom’s Peace – Detail (1988)” Photo by Ira Joel Haber
Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, writer, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in the USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture.
Copyright 2017, Kate Bernadette Benedict. Copyright 2017, Ira Joel Haber