Friday, August 17, 2018

sandwich generation
It's 1:52 pm and I'm only just realizing that it's Friday, it's THAT Friday, like every Friday--it's POETRY Friday.  You might think that means that I'm so relaxed and checked out here at the end of my long summer that I've lost track of what day it is, but no...

It's more that I'm having trouble surfacing from my deep dive into the past for this memoir WIP that has taken over my mornings.  It requires a lot of internet research--everything from who narrated the record album versions of Winnie-the-Pooh that I listened to in 1970 to the names of all the books by Marilyn Sachs that I read between 1973 and 1977 to what year Wesleyan Alpha Delta Phi started calling their dance parties "VORTEX: the party that really sucks" to what club I would have danced in in Manhattan,1986 to the what Metro line we were riding in 2007 when Daisy got off and Duncan and I didn't.  (Here's a little present from me to you of a similar age, by the way.)

Funnily, though, not everything I dredge up leads to memory or even memoir.  Some of it leads to poems that I could only write right now, in this moment, at this age.  Like this one--bon appetit!

sandwich generation 

Back when I was just cheese or
lebanon baloney with mustard,
French’s yellow mustard on
Pepperidge Farm white,
a sandwich was nothin' but a sandwich:
light, bright, handy, daily
gift.  The Archway cookie
tucked under one layer of my
folded paper napkin was
the icing on the cake,
so to speak.

That was before we discovered
whole wheat bread and
grainy mustard, before I went
anywhere and sandwiches
became a bit more pleasantly
I was open faced hot turkey
with Thanksgiving gravy,
roasted and basted in the
ancestral kitchen;
I became open-faced cheese
on toast under a British grill.

Now the other shoe has dropped
(there’s a pair of them), the case
is closed, and it’s clear which side
my bread is buttered on: both.
Below me the 19-grain bun, the yeasty glazed donut,
above the gentle weight of Arnold’s Brick Oven White.

Now I’m tuna salad with
finely chopped celery,
not too much mayo,
tuna melt with cheddar if I’m
going for the Best Sandwich
Oscar, pickles for him,
cucumber for her, heaped
between the two slices
of bread.

Now I’m once-a-week
processed packaged smoked
turkey with avocado guacamole
always wishing for some sprouts,
mustard AND mayo, glass  of
milk, chips on the side,
the Saturday sandwich lunch
that I think is my uncomplicated
childhood though I never had that.

Now I'm peanut butter, ground-
nuts full of healthy fat,  ground
shapeless into a paste that
sticks to your ribs, saves lives
and goes with everything from
concord grape jelly to Miracle Whip
to carrots, apples and bacon,
edible at lunch, breakfast,
and in a pinch for dinner.  

Call me creamy until it turns
out I was wrong about that:
everyone likes crunchy better,
the way the solid bits persist,
tickle your teeth.  I spread thin
into all four corners, oozing
when I’m overfilled or when
I’m sliced by the hands
of a clock.

Bread above me,
bread below me,
am I holding it all together?
I’m a hero.

draft ©HM 2018

The round-up today is with Christy over at Wondering and Wandering. Flap on over for some birdy beauty and so much more!


  1. You ARE a hero! Your sandwich poem is so much fun. I also enjoyed your gift to people of a similar age. I listened to Winnie the Pooh records, too!

  2. Ha! Your "present" was certainly a flashback to things I don't even remember I had forgotten. Wow...what a great pinterest board. The wheel-o! Those specific Old Maid cards, No More Tangles....I'll bet they give me dreams tonight.
    The evolution of your sandwich self...quite a memoir related piece too--even tongue in cheek. I can only imagine you immersed in the research. Loving it but coming up out of it fuzzy headed and slightly time travel worn. Must be some outstanding work you are doing Heidi, everything I read is amazing.

  3. I am older, would go back further and the only sandwich appearing, shocked to say, is the softest white bread with homemade butter spread with sugar. (I hate to admit it.) If your memoir is anything like this, is will be awesome, Heidi. I love your tracked record!

  4. Love this poem, and I love sandwiches, but I hav tos ay that I always come back to my pb+j. I must have had thousands of those packed in school lunches over the years, and you would think that I wouldn't be able to stand to even look at one, but I still find them tasty and comforting.

  5. Who knew sandwiches could tell the story of a life? Makes me want to remember all the sandwiches of mine. My lunch was always a ham sandwich with a bag of chips and a Ding-Dong. How am I still living? Memory is a tricky thing. Your Pinterest board took me back. I see how your research can turn into a time machine. The specifics really make a difference in writing. We can see and taste all the sandwiches in your poem.

  6. I love this sandwich timeline poem and the wordplay you so deftly layer in! Mine would begin with peanut butter and jelly, sometimes with a layer of potato chips, move on to tuna on white bread phase that lasted far too long and end with my current every-gluten-free-sandwich-must-be-toasted phase.

  7. Who knew sandwiches could have so much sass? I love this poem. Just this summer, I've gone and upgraded my BLTs with adding siracha to my mayonnaise, and yes, the bread has changed from white to whole wheat, too.

  8. Delicious time-traveling poem Heidi, fun to slip through this crack with you and surface on the other side. I like the cracker jacks joke book, saddle shoes, orange push up pop, Carol Burnett, and Little Golden Books–thanks for the ride and good luck with the memoir.

  9. Love this, Heidi - and, school paste? I remember just how that smelled, felt on my fingers. But - peanut butter and Miracle Whip? Hmmmm. I went through a phase of mixing up ham/cheese/mayo/mustard/ketchup with NO bread (goop) and very same thing except bologna (called that one glop) - low-carb options decades before it was in fashion, I guess. And before I was a grown-up vegetarian! Thanks for sharing. :0)


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