Soup—by Barbara D. Holender

Ths obligation was fulfilled with soup.
No mother’s plaint of unrequited care
survived a fiery penitential brew.
I heard my mother’s voice splinter like bones
against her mother’s aged plucking needs,
but there was soup and there was
the Fifth Commandment.

Now disappointed mothers wait for signs
while daughters dream recurrently of symbols.
Guilt is out of fashion, soup is out of cans,
and nothing else theyknow to do
implies those long and thoughtful hours of tending.

Women get on no worse now than before,
but that they lack the totem of the pot
to charm some warmth between them.