Frank X Walker

Silver Stakes

Lucy Murphy
When my Isaac is traveling and I start to miss him
I polish silver to pass the time. Not some rich white lady’s
eight-piece place setting, but my own.
When no one is watching, I line up gravy ladles, hooded asparagus
servers, big banquet spoons, and our matching salt cellar
and peppercorn grinder on our dining room table
then I pretend I’m trackside at the big race. I get dressed up
if it’s a derby, and add two of the big silver candle holders
to fancy up the track.
The salt always takes off first with pepper close behind.
Isaac is always aboard my favorite spoon, a wedding gift
from my mother and pacing on everybody’s heels.
I move every piece all the way around the table from start
to finish, one and two at a time until every piece is neck and neck
and galloping down the stretch of white linen table cloth.
I don’t have to tell you which piece of silver always wins,
even if I’m mad at him for not taking me along. He bought this big house
so I could enjoy it, but its only home when he’s here too.

Frank X Walker
“Silver Stakes” is from I Dedicate This Ride: The Making of Isaac Murphy (Old Cove Press, 2010).