Turnips on the Table
How odd when a vegetable and person merge
Becoming one in your mind and mouth.
My grandmother loved those little roots
Their stealthy sting hit your tongue
Like an angry truth.
Put all the butter and sugar you want—
Their heat cannot be denied.
No wonder they’re shaped like tears.
They owned a little grocery store
Could eat anything they wanted
But hardscrabble childhood hangs on you,
A bell that can’t be unrung.
Turnips on the table
A reminder of a hard battle won
A daily bitter tear on the tongue.
Rita Quillen’s novel Hiding Ezra was released in March, 2014, from Little Creek Books; it was a finalist in the 2005 DANA Awards competition, and a chapter of the novel is included in the scholarly study of Appalachian dialect, Talking Appalachian: Voice, Identity, and Community. Her new poetry chapbook, Something Solid To Anchor To, is available from Finishing Line Press.