Her wishful dreams did not include the latest Paris fashions.
Pedicures and facials were not numbered in her passions.
Being a wife and mother was what she loved the best.
It’s said that wild horses couldn’t drag her from the nest.
If they held a World Olympics of mothering and wifery,
she’d excel in matches such as ironing and knifery,
and her family members no doubt would all concur
that she’d capture golden medals in the wash and bake and stir.
If you questioned her contentment, you’d hear her lilting laugh
as she dished up cornmeal muffins, buttering each half,
thawed out frozen orange juice, avoiding the debate
as she hurried us through breakfast, afraid that we’d be late.
When the fifteen minute warning bell was rung across the street
in the school bell tower, we beat a fast retreat.
She drained her cup of coffee, then poured another cup,
put fish food in the goldfish bowl and fed the cat and pup.
She filled the sink with wash water and scrubbed and dried and listened
to her morning radio until the glasses glistened.
She’d make the noontime casserole and put it on slow bake.
Sometimes make a cherry pie or a chocolate cake.
She’d sweep the floors and make the beds, polish, dust and mop
until the noon bell sounded and she had to stop.
She’d make a hasty salad of lettuce and tomatoes
and serve what we called dinner— ham and scalloped potatoes,
meatloaf, hamburgers or a ring of cooked baloney,
Spanish rice or navy beans or cheese and macaroni.
Spaghetti, ham and cabbage, goulash or steamed steak—
whatever she could fry or steam or boil or broil or bake.
My dad would come in from the fields and eat and leave again.
With just an hour for lunch, we kids were always in a spin
to get back to the playground and lay claim to the best swings
or be first in line for tether ball or other schoolyard things.
Then she lay down on the sofa with our little terrier curled
right up close beside her as she learned about the world
through books, papers and magazines, reading there until
the let-out bell was sounded and kids bolted down the hill.
Time enough for supper preparations to be started
as one by one she was rejoined by her dearly departed.
Tales of school spats, teachers’ stories, what our best friends said.
From four to five, our childish raves and rants swirled through her head.
Then my father home again to wash up at the sink,
his mouth up to the faucet for a little drink.
“Use a glass, Ben,” She would say. A rather tardy rule
as he sank into his chair with feet up on a stool.
Supper at six, then radio, or later the T.V.
Dad in his favorite rocking chair, teasing my sis and me.
Mother in her usual place, prone on the divan
reading “Redbook,” eating stove-popped popcorn from the pan.
Did she wish she’d gone to college and had a different life
than just being a mother and a rancher’s wife?
She would laugh and say to us, seemingly undaunted,
“Girls, basically I’m lazy. I’ve had just the life I wanted!”