Fig Newtons

I remember Mrs. Heinz

Who attended my father’s church.

We’d pick up her and her kids

In a bus that held twelve,

The gearshift coming out

Of the floor, the emergency brake

A handle with a grip that needed

The strength of a man.

We’d visit her – Mom, Dad, and I –

Park the car on the other side

Of the creek and walk across

The wooden bridge to the porch.

Inside the house there was a

Smell of food, food we never

Cooked or ate, never known.

She’d come out with Fig Newtons, smile, say,

“For the boy” then my part

Of the conversation was over

And one of her kids would find

Me and we would play.

She was short, stocky.

Had lost some teeth

And had a smile that wanted

To smile at everything,

Especially pain and life not

Gone quite right.

Her husband was a drunk.

Rarely seen.  He’d say,

“Preacher.  Missus” and then would leave.

I don’t know what they would

Talk about.  Jesus, I suppose,

And how He can give strength

And comfort any place and they

All knew what they were trying

To mean and Mrs. Heinz would

Smile, say, “Don’t that boy

Like them Fig Newtons?”

I never eat Fig Newtons

Without remembering Mrs. Heinz

And her smile and her eyes

A little lost, tired looking for the unseen.

-Byron Hoot


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