nebraska twilight

it is after dinner at the old house in lincoln, nebraska

the cream-colored house with a screened-in front porch

you are standing in the kitchen with your grandmother

all five feet two of her washing dishes she’s washing

you’re drying with one of her old red-checked dishcloths

you offered to wash but she said stuff and nonsense

and you know she still doesn’t trust you or anyone else

to wash the dishes clean enough to get that greasy residue

from the pork chops off of her favorite china plates with

pink blossoms outlined around the edge the day-to-day china

but still you’re helping her in the kitchen and your mother is off

somewhere reading to your younger brother and sister and

your father is sitting on the porch of the house

he grew up in watching twilight descend on the august

streets and he brushes a little corn silk off the porch from

the afternoon corn-shucking for tonight’s meal remembering

fondly how many ears he ate and still tasting the sweetness

of their bright bursting buttered beads on his tongue

and as your grandmother with an irish name that your daughter

will say over and over to herself years later reveling in the sound

of it naming characters in her fictional stories with that name

naming her dolls with that name as your grandmother reaches

to you in the humid heat of a summer kitchen to pass you the corn pot

to dry she collapses on the cool of the tiled floor without a sound

and you yelp and the pot rolls toward the door making a horrible

metallic sound toward the door to the porch where your father

sits still relaxing still watching still feeling the blue black of night

spill down slow while humming a tune and patting out a rhythm

he is planning to play on his marimba not knowing yet

no not for another moment that his mother is already rising

into that same twilight sky

Jill Kitchen’s work appears in FERAL: A Journal of Poetry and ArtNaugatuck River Review, and Poems in the Afterglow. She has a B.A. in Romance languages from Colorado College and has studied creative writing at UCLA, Columbia University, The Poetry Project in New York City, and with Hollowdeck Press in Boulder. She lives in Boulder, Colorado where she can be found rollerskating on the creek path while searching for great horned owls. Twitter: @jillkitchen