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Fredrick Zydek

Things My Mother Never Told Me

Learning how to balance a checkbook
would have been nice, or how to make
my own bed, build a soup or weed
the flowers. Everyone seemed to think
I knew what to do even if no one had ever

shown me. At five, they ha me pulling
my little red wagon out to the farm to get
milk, butter, eggs and garden greens. There
were no sidewalks in those days; I pulled
my wagon alongside the road. Paved walks

were uptown; I pulled my wagon there too,
note in hand, for grub and cigarettes to take
back to Mother's kitchen. No one suggested
I might be too young to cross streets on my
own. I can't remember anyone teaching me

to read. I don't know if I picked it up through
osmosis or from Dick and Jane. That words
spoken could be reproduced, put on paper
to be read again and again, didn't seem like
a mystery to me until after I passed fifty

years of age. I took so much for granted
while I was growing up. If I was hungry I ate,
thirsty I drank and if I wanted to play, I went
out to the woods and climbed trees. No one
ever told me mountain lions and bears could

climb trees or that just because bees made
honey didn't mean I could take it without
getting stung. Lastly, it would have been
nice to know that life isn't supposed to be fair
but if we're lucky, it will prove to be interesting.

Praying for One in Transition

                            --for Terry Storm

Strange how no one uses the word.
They say, he's very close or he could
pass at any time.
Not even the nurse
uses the word. She tells us it may be
time to call the rest of the family and
asks if we have made all the necessary
arrangements. We're not even sure if
we call for an ambulance or a hearse
when the time comes but nod as if we
have been through this before, know
what is expected of us, have made
plans right down to the suit he will
wear in his casket and who among us
will deliver the eulogy. Truth is -- we
do not even know how to put the word
into our prayers. We ask for God's
will, a peaceful transition, grace. But
we do not say the word. We want it
to remain a stranger among us forever.

©2005 by Fredrick Zydek

Fredrick Zydek is the author of eight collections of poetry. Takopachuk: the Buckley Poems is forthcoming from Winthrop Press later this year. Formerly a professor of creative writing and theology at the University of Nebraska and later at the College of Saint Mary, he is now a gentleman farmer when he isn't writing. He is the editor for Lone Willow Press.

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