Spice of Life

This is up at Thimbletter.

Spice of Life

Steve Deutsch 
My dad was infinitely better
with a knife and fork
than with hammer and nails.
And though his 
do-it-yourself skills 
were never the wonder 
of the Western world
his hamburgers were 
the talk of Hopkinson Avenue.
He worked his magic
on a small hibachi
on the fire escape—
his secret spice mix
secure in an old Hellman’s jar.
 
Early each spring
he’d don his ragged Dodger’s cap
and his consecrated robe,
draw the shades,
and prepare a fresh batch.
It was quite a ceremony.
He’d recount each ingredient three times
as if a cantor
singsonging a prayer—
holding each spice jar
to the kitchen light with reverence—
then mix them all together
with a wooden spoon
that had been in the family
since the time of King David.
“Pure gold,” he’d assure me 
with a wink.
 
He taught me everything I know
and even today I can’t be
trusted with tools.
I’m never asked 
to fix a leak,
caulk a backsplash,
or even change a lightbulb.
But a fire in my fancy gas grill
is cause for the neighborhood
to rejoice and noisily
pray for leftovers.
“Hamburgers,” they murmur,
nudging one another 
and applauding mightily 
when I hold up 
the legendary Hellman’s jar.
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