Still days away from the first ripe tomato,
I pick another dozen cucumbers
to give to the neighbors and see my mother
slicing them into a bowl, each layer
sprinkled with salt, then setting them aside
for a while before squeezing out the bitterness,
adding vinegar and sour cream
to just the right balance.
When my father comes home from his work
with crowbar and spike hammer
on the railroad section gang,
she’ll set before him the cold bowlful,
a buttered hunk of rye bread
and, until he’s finished, some quiet.