I Believe I Remember Love
My mother was transforming
another tough pot roast into meat loaf,
grinding up chunks of gristly beef, bovine scraps
she’d boned off a shoulder blade.
As she bore down on the stiff
crank handle & fed the iron gullet
of the meat grinder, the auger hole, I stood
beside her, a shadow, not yet two,
held onto the counter & cutting board, listened to
the squish & roar of meat pushing through
spaghetti sized holes. I was mesmerized
by those oozing red hamburger strings.
In a flash I reached up & plugged a hole
with my finger to stop the flow, didn’t know about
the slashing, windmilling knives
turning industriously, cleaving all meat.
My mother & I screamed, cried hysterically,
held hands & a dish towel full of blood
while my dad drove the thirty miles of curvy
road, a two lane along the river, cussing,
full throttle. They hustled me through the lobby
of the clinic, brick & glass. I saw wheel chairs,
white gowns running about, watched
an overhead light fade. Finally, at home
I remember sitting on the floor in overalls,
a lemon sucker in one hand & plaster
cast on the other, people laughing, smiling at me:
the fabled "Little Dutch Boy" who survived
the flood. I was the talk of the neighborhood,
the focus of the family. My first memory,
that trauma, was perfect drama. An audience brings
us joy. Our greatest happiness is
the belief we are loved. It’s what we live for,
what we desire most. We learn to tolerate
any pain, risk blood or breath, anything, if
we believe we are loved, right now, forever.
Reprinted from blue horizon (Two Dogs Press, 2007). Copyright © 2007 by Mark Gibbons. Used with permission of the author. All rights reserved.