She was disciplined and stern,
rigid, staunch and taciturn.
Her back seemed starched, her mouth a line.
Her clothing smelled like turpentine.
Each morning she dished out our gruel,
then perch herself upon a stool
expecting that we’d finish it.
A spoonful left? She’d have a fit!
She’d stamp her foot in consternation
and deliver an oration
of how hard her life had been.
Abandoned at the age of ten,
working in a factory
not pampered like the likes of me!
And so I’d spoon the gruel up,
or sneak it to my hungry pup,
leave the kitchen and escape
to hall or street or fire escape.
Every yule time was the same
when my Aunt Winona came
to visit us. “She’ll soon be gone,”
my mother told us. “Just play along.”
And so we did, all grateful for
the day that she walked out the door!