Why do you do this?
my daughter asks.
I’m wiping clean a piece of used aluminum foil,
then folding it into a neat square
to be stacked with others in the drawer near the stove.
My hands know the way
and make quick work of it.
My heart, too, knows the way
as I remember the words of my mother
who saves foil still—
as if this is a lesson all must learn,
as if the economy of the world rests on this.
Why do you do this?
As a girl, I asked my mother
when she patted shiny squares of foil where they sat—
as they always had—
beside assorted pencils and pens, a box of sandwich bags
and a new roll of aluminum foil,
round and royal, nestled on a throne
of hot pads.
To make do, she says.
And she tells me of the years
her mother and grandmother suffered
though the Depression and both World Wars.
So, today, I tell my daughter:
We do thisbecause your grandmother and great grandmother
and great great grandmother did this,
because in a world of throw-aways,
we remember a world of want,
because to make do
is to honor the women we love.
She looks out the window to the yard
as if the lean years wait there,
crouched and urgent, in feed sack aprons.
And when she turns, taking the foil into her own small hands,
she holds it like a prayer,
a provenance to live for.
Shannon Vesely is a retired teacher, mother, and grandmother who resides in rural southeast Iowa. For 40 years, she taught English in college and K-12 classrooms throughout the Midwest. Since retirement, Shannon served as an adjunct English instructor and literary consultant for area schools. Currently, she writes essays for her websites, Sanctuaries, collaborates with local composers, and writes poetry. Shannon's poetry has appeared in Nebraska Life, Platte Valley Review, Alicorn, and most currently in a published collection, The Way of Things (Rogue Faculty Press, 2021). Shannon's father claimed that everyone has at least “one good poem in our hidden heads.” Shannon has wrote with her continued desire to uncover her one “good poem.”