Stirs the Eggs, Scrambled
A Poem by Charles Patrick Norman
Early morning: the sun not yet shining.
Still dark. Breakfast.
My father sits across from me
at the small square kitchen table
covered with a red-and-white-checked
oil cloth, spooning hot grits
onto his plate — white, steaming,
swirls of orange sharp cheddar cheese
stirred into eddies with the melted butter,
a shake of salt, then pepper.
He takes two buttermilk biscuits from the
small round pan, hot from the oven,
breaks each one open with his fork,
dabs soft churned butter onto each one,
sets the biscuits next to the grits,
then scoops a spoon of molasses,
from the little jar, dips one biscuit into
the thick brown sweetness,
bites, chews, and smiles at me.
He spoons hot buttered cheese grits
onto my plate. I take two biscuits
from the pan and copy him,
move for move, as my mother turns
from the hot stove two feet away,
black cast-iron skillet handle wrapped
with a striped dish towel, and slides
two fried eggs, soft, over easy,
with the spatula, onto my father’s
plate of grits.
He stirs the yellow yolks into the grits,
dabs a biscuit into the mix
and eats, pleased.
She turns back to the gas stove,
blue flames flowing from the burner,
grasps two brown eggs from
the bowl in one hand.
With practiced ease she cracks
the eggs against the skillet edge,
drops the yolks and whites
into the bubbling bacon grease,
stirs the eggs, scrambled —
I do not yet like runny eggs
like my father does,
but one day I will,
perhaps in homage to him,
or yearning to return to that time
when there were but the three of us
in that little white house
on the hill, happy, content, alive,
before he kissed Mama goodbye,
squeezed my shoulder,
and drove to work,
one more time.