The Way

By Mary Hood

A week's worth of white bread heels
thrown in a pan beneath the cupboard
grows stale until eggs, milk and a little--
just a little--sugar, cinnamon and vanilla
are added and baked at 350 for 45 minutes.
Bread pudding is the way our mothers made meals.
This is the way women feed the multitudes.

The way our mothers disappeared into children
and families would make a black hole look like a picnic.
Let me count the ways--endless meals, endless worn shoes
lunch money that could stretch around the world twice
mending and patching to stretch the budget
the neverending cycle of stretching and cleaning
doctor bills, light bills, and the owed like negatively charged

particles in orbit, a force that never gets neutralized
where dreams of accomplishment fade with each passing year
where even a room of one's own is a smoke
dream and last but not least
the way everyone leaves.