Sheila Black
Mabel Bakes a Pie (Dead Since 1989)

Your hands swollen as gloves hover
over the dented tin canisters. Flour lifting its
little cloud. A stickiness of spilled sugar.
Knead just enough to keep the tenderness.
As for the fruit, never so sweet you can't taste it.

When you left the children, buttoned your cloth coat
with the mink collar, your purse the size of a
child's boat, to search the farthest bars, walking
because he had taken the only car. A good crust
doesn't stick in the mouth, but shatters.
What we both
know: Love turns cold shoulders. A country
yielded, conquered. Beside the highway where
you paused: Two crushed cans, a shredded sack
of brown paper, the river with its barges leaking oil,
railroad tracks opening out like thread,
the friendly light of a window, the slurred voices
within. Where you might find him; where you
stopped looking, no longer even listening for
his footfall, except as a cue to even your breathing.
Your hands now pitiless over flour and Crisco,
you reach to touch my wrist. No accident you
have come here. A blue ribbon pie, you say, is one
made without any fuss. You can't act as if you care.
You only do what needs to be done.