Saturday nights when he was too wrung out
from worry, too tired to wake the next day
in the Missouri dawn and drive his Olds
to the donut shop for a dozen glazed,
my grandfather would set to making mush.
In his powder-blue cotton pajamas,
he stirred and swirled watery gruel into substance
he poured into a bowl and refrigerated overnight.
Sunday morning, his ruddy hands
long-fingered and sure, he sliced
the white block into small rectangles.
As he shook his battered black skillet
over the stove’s hot eye
butter and high heat transformed
cold grits into gold bars
swimming in syrupy pools.
Now another gloomy winter looms.
Alone, I sleep too much, eat anxiety, empty
calories that fill me up, leave me wanting.
My hair loses color, I lose track of time,
days blur between scheduled zoom calls and
surrender. Too tired to try yet another
new recipe, the memory of mush surfaces.
As the sun slices the horizon, I take out his worn skillet,
shape grit(s) to set, and begin—
the sizzle of butter in a pan, the crisped surface,
the tender that hides just below:
the pleasure of devouring.