The shakers

For as long as I

can remember,

my mother always set

the table with

two sets of identical

salt & pepper shakers.

***

It made little difference

of how many were at the table

or the meal being served,

***

my mother would set

the table with

two sets of identical

salt & pepper shakers.

***

I remember the day

I stayed home from school

due to a high fever.

My dad rolled in the TV set so

I could watch cartoons,

my little sister lent me her

favorite comic books,

and my mom brought in a tray

of my two favorite foods:

spaghetti o’s and

a side of saltine crackers.

***

And there on the tray …

***

two sets of identical

salt & pepper shakers.

***

And the seasons passed,

and the years went by

and we all got a little bit older,

and a little bit wiser

and through all the changes

there was one constant

***

the one thing that never changed …

***

The table was always

adorned with two sets of

identical

salt & pepper shakers.

***

And though we all wondered, we never spoke of it …

***

That is, until last week,

when I went to visit my mother at

the Home of the Very Age-ed.

***

She and I sat in her

small room & reminisced

about happier times and

family members long gone

***

And then, finally, after an hour, or so,

I gathered up the nerve

to ask her the question that had

nagged me for so many years.

***

“Why did you always set the table with two sets of identical salt & pepper shakers?”

***

My mother closed her

eyes as if in contemplation

***

She spoke just

above a whisper,

and I leaned in close so

as not to miss a word.

***

“One set of the identical

salt & pepper shakers, my son,

said my mother,

“was poison!”

*

finis

for j.p.

37 thoughts on “The shakers

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