Shucking and silking
done, we bend over
a stainless steel sink,
side by side by side
scraping sweet kernels
down the cob
or up,
Silver Queen,
twenty-five dozen ears
to be frozen
for winter tables.

A butcher knife,
older than the oldest one,
fits her hand. We defer.
The other takes a sharper
knife. I take potluck, last
in this assembly line.
We cut down the cob,
raking off little white knobs,
scraping the row,
milk squirting
like squeezed lemon.

Each immersed in her own close
commerce, we do not discuss
dementia, two-pack-a-day habits
or what we feed addictive genes.
For there is work, work.
We only argue tiny matters:
did Mama cut up the cob
and scrape,
or down?

:: Kathleen Thompson, in Birmingham Poetry Review (27: 2003)

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