Fathers and Sons, Letters for Maggie

Panning For Gold ….

We took clockwise turns around the living room, 

unwrapping in a slow savor ‘til almost noon,

when he arose,

rescued the bag of small russets from the pantry, 

and with the brand new peeler he bought at Marshall’s 

for just the occasion, 

set to work skinning them in the sink,


then retrieving the sharp blue paring knife he hides 

from everyone under the big red oven mitts in the drawer,

slicing them at the table,


the way he likes, 

from chip-like to a thin thickness,

plopping them in the big bowl of water

to de-starch-ify

While I procure salt and pepper from the cabinet, 

a half stick of unsalted butter from the fridge door,

cutting it into pats to set out and soften, 

park towels on paper plates 

for when they come off

All of which takes way too much time for Peter’s tastes, 

so he pours olive oil in the pan and lights the burner

without me noticing

I alone possess the patience for the process

Grab two handfuls that break into applause on contact, 

enough to cover the bottom of the pan with the high sides 

to tame the splatter

After a few untimed minutes, I flip them on their backs 

some brown starting to show, 

knife two pats of butter and slather on top 

to slow melt into the bottom where

I dance them all across the floor

then let them talk amongst themselves, 

before the second flip, proud brown on corners now,

rearrange to give prime real estate in the center

so the pale ones can catch up, 

A yell from the living room, “How much longer?” 

As long as it takes

A final flip to finish, 

I pluck and place the done ones atop 

the shoulders of stragglers to encourage a finishing kick, 

then airlift onto paper towels, 

pat the tops before sending them out 

into the living room 

with blessings of salt and pepper, 

Peter squirting a pool of Heinz on his plate

The first batch to land 

always gets the Neil Armstrong credit, 

some almost but not too done, the thin ones chip crunchy, 

the thicker meaty in the middle 

By the third pan we’re trying to fool the smoke alarm, 

Karry opening windows, kicking on the fan

to chase the clouds hovering the dining room ceiling

as Emma yells from the living room, 

snapping us back to the presents 


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