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Jenna's Sterling
by Tina Hacker

Sam bought her a fork or spoon or knife
for every birthday, every anniversary.
One piece all he could afford in those early years
after he returned from Viet Nam.
Jenna felt comfortable using
mismatched pieces to fill gaps in her set.
Like temporary crowns, she'd say.
Jenna was convinced Sterling made her food taste better.
She stroked the puzzle of curves on each piece
as if she were calming a skittish kitten
before she placed it in its velvet bed.
The couple's teenaged daughter discovered
that the pieces weren't Sterling at all.
She laughed with her friends
about how dumb her parents were,
found 129 web sites that listed
the pattern under "Silver Plate."
Sometimes a relative was tempted to reveal the lie.
"She should know the truth and can afford better now."
Jenna flinched at her daughter's laughter,
kept what she knew hidden under a floorboard
that creaked but never revealed its secrets.

Published by Rusty Truck, 2010  

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