Table Nine by Bill Brown

Table Nine
Bill Brown

Oh Grandmother,
while eating breakfast
at Cracker Barrel,
imagine my surprise
to find your antique picture
hanging in a grouping
with a Coca-Cola sign,
a stranger on a tractor,
and a mule breaking sod.

You taught me
how to tight-line fish
on Cub Creek,
to spit on my hands,
and rub them in the sand
to take an eel off a hook,
to steal eggs beneath a hen,
to suck on Hore Hound
to make it last.

Which cousin betrayed you,
hawked the portrait at a yard sale,
not knowing that you’d end up
in a chain restaurant
with an old-timer motif?

The last time our eyes met
you were in intensive care
at the Madison County Hospital,
hooked up to machines, your jaw
set against doctors who wouldn’t
let your heart stop so you could
drift to your just reward.

Now you hang above table nine
in the non-smoking section,
honored or condemned,
I don’t know, to gaze
at two eggs over-easy
with hash-browns. Rhonda
will be your server now.

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