Ottawa Poetry Magazine –

"Ladle and Cradle" by Evelyn Reyes


Title image shows a woman sitting at a picnic bench reading while facing toward a scenic view of a river and government buildings.

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Published January 1, 2022

Ladle and Cradle

by Evelyn Reyes
(Ajax, Ontario, Canada)

Home and hearth for almost three
Pall of gloom clouded my gaze at men laughing
Tried to serve my meal still chuckling
My head screamed, "Those ladies where...they used to be...?"
Throat dry my cries quieted down by forlorn.

Everyday the hand ladled comfort on my tray
Too many I feasted on baguette dipped in bowl of beef
Waffles for breakfast, bacon, pancakes Sunday's best
Thanksgiving was asked "White or brown?" my first
On plan B meals were heaped labour of love for free.

Exhausted antennas up for so long now bent
From lectures struggled to write 'til night turned day
Hauled to Rundle, then later Castle: halls built in
Winter Olympics of '88, over ten yet so liveable neat
Save for Dining hall res all wrecked not a trace.

Beloved old wives were long let go
private Aramark marched over, can't match the spirit
When culture shocked chewy cookies, soups my only salve
a deep longing as I departed.

Outside of the hall I roamed, desolate
Students trudged in groups, twos or solos
Wanted to hug them on a mound will I harp?
Keep at it guys, your future's in your shadow
Smiles and thank you to the ladies weren't much
Gratitude echoes in the trees empty with them out.

Lift up your eyes the University chanted
Turned to the next bend pondering over
And over the shape of your faces, hair held by net
I traced the veins in your hands weary of many stories
So I can feed, you cradled me to sleep content.

At Foothills hospital looking over the arch
I turned to my uncle, saw veins in his hand
He slept. I whispered thank you, he who took me
Then and now, there and here.

Evelyn Reyes lived in residence at the University of Calgary as a graduate student, 1996-1999. She now lives in Ontario; helps clients recovering from mental health issues at a Toronto hospital, achieve their academic goals. Recovering from the demise of two pet dogs she returned to writing more, for herself.

This poem is included in Poetry World #2, published in the Wax Poetry and Art Library.

Previously published in Ottawa Poetry Magazine:
Our Magnum Opus
by Shaima Kaka

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