Last Childhood Poem

The blue box of Morton salt—
“When it rains it pours.” Milk
pours from milk cans. Lard
sizzles in a cast-iron skillet.
Dogs flop on cracked linoleum.
This is the day that the Lord

hath made. Year of our Lord
1953. Please pass the salt.
Farm boots muddy linoleum.
Cows let down their milk.
Scrapple smokes in a skillet
crackling pig gut and lard.

We feed the pig for its lard
in cold dawns, think of Our Lord
Jesus Christ, Amen. In the skillet,
smelts; in the wound, salt.
Cow udders swell with milk.
Sears Roebuck sells cheap linoleum.

No one deplores this linoleum
or cleans up spatters of lard.
The mother says, “Drink your milk!”
No one asks God the Father or the Lord
Jesus why love turns bitter as salt,
why anger smokes in the skillet.

Does anyone throw the skillet?
Does anyone stoop to scrub linoleum?
Cows graze and lick salt-lick salt.
The pig cannot imagine lard.
We who are so loved by the Lord
Jesus drink our molasses milk.

How long must we milk
nostalgia, keep this rusted skillet
burning? Childhood’s gone, the Lord
knows and it can keep its old linoleum.
Later we’ll regret trading living pigs for lard.
Later we’ll take the Lord with a grain of salt.

Last praise for the Lord Jesus. Last praise
for milk-spilt linoleum, noodles salted,
lard rancid and stuck in memory’s gullet.

-Priscilla Long

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