My Father Remembers the Butcher
There were eight of us, one after another,
the last brother, Down’s, born
when I was eighteen.
Mom rarely left the house--
Seventy-six years, same four rooms.
The pudgy butcher came to the house
every week and sat on the kitchen stool.
Mom chatted with him, busy
in the tiny space, two steps from sink
to fridge to stove. Pad in his hand, he took
her order for cuts of meat--
bacon, pork roast, German sausage.
He delivered the next day,
brought eggs, bread, sugar--
carried us when we couldn’t pay.
Dad worked, but we never owned a car.
He rode to work with a neighbor, stopped
at the tavern on the way home.
For a time Mom and Dad went out, played
pinochle at Frankes, Lipperts, or Mossbergs.
That soon ended.
Dad couldn’t stand losing--
the others had enough of his fire.
It didn’t pay to be mad at him.
When he drank Huber, swigged too much
of his rot-gut beer, we got slapped upside
the back of the head and more.
For so long, I was mad at Mom.
Couldn’t get why she didn’t leave him.
Sometimes he accused her
of messing around with the butcher.
I wondered when.
About the Author: Gail Goepfert, a poet, photographer, and teacher living in Illinois, is an associate editor of RHINO, a journal published in Evanston, Illinois. She has a couple books out and a couple more on the way. Her publications include Crab Orchard, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Rattle.