I live, write, and teach in Appleton, Wisconsin—about 35 miles south of the "frozen tundra." I am fascinated by good paper, poetry and the way ink moves forward on the blank page and words trail behind like a snake shedding its skin. Winner of the 2003 Main Street Rag Chapbook contest, I am the author of the collection A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag: 2013) and seven chapbooks of poetry. Widely published (poetry, reviews and interviews), I was awarded a Pushcart Prize in 2011. www.karlahuston.com
The House of Weather Magic
My father, drafted to be the face
of the House of Weather Magic, a serene
god in his lab coat, dirty fingers pointing
to the mechanics of the chiller,
his blond curls slicked with Brylcreem;
see him gesture to a crowd who’ll someday
ride in air conditioned comfort, cool
and oblivious as the pretend
passengers above them. It’s 1954
and life is as easy as buying a ticket,
taking the all-aboard to the city,
travelers sighing through rails of heat.
This is the summer of Elvis
and the Lone Ranger’s last ride. Hi ho!
Later, Father will drive home,
domed lunch box in the back seat,
a day’s worries sandwiched next to him.
He’ll step into his home thirty minutes
later, sit down with his paper
before my mother calls “dinner.”
We dare not disturb him
until after the news, to air the just-wait
But now we pass our plates, which he fills
with what his paycheck affords.
Mother hovers, making sure his coffee
is hot, his salad crisp, her cup of complaints
simmering. I am the chubby girl in the corner,
the one who is always crying her blues.
But Father is too busy for me, now
tossing bills into the payday lottery.
Even though steam from the Maytag sweats
the basement windows,
the temperature in the house is cool.
My mother never wanted the luncheon
after the burial. The Cheez Whiz
and potato chips on rye, ham
sliced thin as a whisper. She didn’t want
casseroles or tri-color pasta salads,
no cake with soupy frosting or pale
lemonade, no white-haired ladies
and no-haired men, big-bellied cousins
distant or otherwise, clutching my hand.
She didn’t want the minister’s slim
benedictions before the clink of forks.
My father said it was all right, though,
while I circled tables with water,
afraid to take a seat for fear
she’d smell the coffee brewing
or the tuna noodle hotdish as it passed
between tables, notice my father’s
shadow walking beside me.
©2016 Karla Huston
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