My Father Calls to Ask a Question

Lori Bellamy

Photo Credit: Sandra/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Are they still good?
He’s on the other side of the country, holding a jar of beans.

I remember when the beans came in.
My two uncles, my one aunt, my grandmother, grandfather,
all of us, sat in outdoor chairs,

we snapped the tips off of those beans,
pulled the strings down the sides,

there were October Beans
and Scarlet Runners whose pods
opened into amethysts.

At a minimum they’re 32 years old.

Canned goods
saved from down those treacherous steps.
Fetched from the cellar
that smelled like peaches and laundry.

Picked from a garden
with blueberry bushes covered in gauze,
my grandfather there in that rippling land.

They were good.

How do I describe the steam that filled the kitchen?
The orphan who grew into my grandfather?
The mirrors all over the house
That reminded my grandmother
to be beautiful?

My father wipes the dust, shines up the jar.

Those are definitely past their best-by date, I tell him.
Why would you want to eat them?

How does a family disperse like milkweed seeds?
Like wishes floating,
trying to find a place to land.


Lori’s father recently sent her an elementary school notebook filled with Lori’s poetry. It made her realize that she’s been writing poems for most of her life. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Quarterly magazine, the Poem-A-Day section of the Indolent Press website and other publications. Lori spends her free time fighting with the cat over desk space, dancing in the park on crisp spring mornings and crocheting silly looking hats. Email: lori[at]

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