Walking in I smell my Dad's shirt
on butcher day three hundred miles
and twenty years ago after the kill,
the hog's head removed, intestines washed out.
Today's special: deep fried mac n' cheese wedges
with a pulled pork sandwich.
The group at the back table in Steeler jerseys
is playing five card stud.
The high-tech digital plasma hangs next to
mounted antlers and the owner's family photos.
I used to help scrape the hair from the carcass
and cut the lard, braced against the cold by swigs
from Dad's whiskey flask.
College basketball on the flat screen
and you can still smoke in here.
My hands, slick from the grease would slip,
on my knife's handle, my fingertips got nicked,
a bit of my blood always ended up
in the jars of fat stored for biscuits and pie crust.
Halfway through the game
and my second beer, my flannel smells
like cigarettes and cooking oil.
After the sun set the cooking fires were doused
Dad would fry up scrapple, slathered it
with apple butter. We'd eat over the kitchen sink
in silence, wiping our faces on our shirt sleeves.
-- Bernadette Ulsamer
Bernadette Ulsamer lives in the South Side Slopes and works for the University of Pittsburgh. Her publications include The Main Street Rag, Ophelia Street, Along These Rivers: Poetry and Photography of Pittsburgh and Dionne's Story. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Saturday morning on 90.5 FM.