Baby Food – a poem

With both boys home again zooming school, we talk about this corona year and its hardships, and I bore them at dinner recalling my own youth and the lessons there.

We hunted nickels in the cushions
when school lunch was 30 cents
bought kerosene in cans to heat
the house for a day
ran the car without oil ‘til it seized.

You weren’t born yet.
I was younger than you.

We put up a sign when the gas arrived
and cars lined up down the street.
Daddy let them buy food on credit.
What else, he thought, could he do?

When the store failed he walked
the fields drunk as a tattered lord.

So that’s why now here in the suburbs
amidst our cosseted stuff
I come home in a mask with cereal.
Ice cream.  Apple sauce.

You see that’s what he taught me —
find comfort where you can.
In hard times, ain’t it true,
you always run out of spoons.

4 thoughts on “Baby Food – a poem

  1. What a wonderful poem for today. I remember those gas lines and the general atmosphere of 1970s malaise. I also remember hearing stories like this from my Depression-era parents, who experienced exactly such things themselves. We think we have it so bad today…what we actually have is a lack of memory. This is still nothing like what our parents/grandparents faced in the Depression and WWII. We are so lucky that for many of us, the biggest disaster is still running out of spoons…


    • Thanks, Scott, yes, exactly! I’m editing my mom’s Depression Era-WWII memoir now (she died years ago but left this type-script I’m working from), and it definitely provides a tonic perspective on our current problems! Trading eggs for gingham to make a dress, whew!


  2. Poignant reminders. Lucky young men to be close by so you can reminisce about your own family history. One grandmother made my dresses (and quilts) out of feed bags. Another grandmother kept a “spooner” (a tallish, two handled glass jar) on the table filled with spoons. Growing up on a farm, we put foods by for winter — and we were never hungry.


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