The rhubarb leaves, ruffled fans waving from rosy
fingers, signal his daughters like marine flags
on the ship, to man the battle stations of piedom.
From childhood, they watched him head to the garden
after work, in dress shoes, shirt and tie, to pluck
the sour stalks, one by one, from an earthen deck.
He showed them the proper, two-handed pull––yank,
then he brushed off the dirt. Sometimes, after a rain,
he would clean the stalks outside with the hose,
muddy water pooling around his Florsheim shoes,
before rescuing the dripping stems into the kitchen.
Cutting board and knife prepared, he demonstrated
the chopping technique that he learned “in the Orient,”
blue eyes crinkling as he scraped the red and green
crescents into the Pyrex bowl used for such things.
And they watched and learned and baked his pies.
The first rhubarb pie of the season was for his birthday,
marking the start of the growing season, bleeding hearts,
hostas and hummingbirds. He inspected their crusts,
breaking through the top with his fork, and eyed
the interior strata like a geologist inspecting rock layers.
The daughters roll the dough on floured cloths from separate
kitchens now. Fluting edges with pink polished nails,
they each bake one pie a year, weaving a salute into the crust.
© 2011 Kim King