When my mother found us on the darkened kitchen floor at midnight staring at the twin slices of Wonder Bread turning slowly from white to brown in the brand new Emerson electric toaster with forks in our hands and an unopened bag of marshmallows on the sleeping bag she knew she had to do something. She sat down on the linoleum floor and very quietly and patiently told us a long story about her Aunt Verna when she was seven years old who poked a fork “just like the one you have there” into the electric toaster to see if it would turn a glowing red color which it did not but instead Aunt Verna was jolted by an electric current so strong that her left eye “popped right out of its socket and landed in a pile of clothes her mother had just brought in to fold.”
The toast was delicious and the next morning when we looked up from our oatmeal at the slices of lightning crinkling the black sky we counted to seven to hear a boom rattle every plate on the table and every window in the house. The black cord of the toaster seemed to wag like the tail of some silver cat. When my brother would touch the cord he would close his eyes tight.
John McKernan – who grew up in Omaha Nebraska – recently retired after teaching 42 years at Marshall University. He wanders hither & yon on his goat & broccoli farm visited nightly by deer in West Virginia where he lives in the summer and wanders the surf and glades where he lives in Florida during the winter. He has published poems in many places from The Atlantic Monthly to Zuzu’s Petals. His latest book of poems is Resurrection of the Dust.