Whispers in Wine

Emmy wasn't told
about Ruby until years afterwards.
She stayed home anyway;
pulled the loft beds tight;
made the thick corn chowder
the White Owl was famous for--
the one that took four stirring spoons.
Followed her mother's
tightly whispered orders
to come right home from school.
Gave up trying altogether
when she caught her father's scowl
as she tromped back up the steps
one Friday afternoon with Laura and Sadie
pulling at her long braids.

When her mother's white lips
fell silent, she was denied even
time for the Ladies Aid meetings
as she cared alone for the White Owl.

Sometimes she'd hear the pines rustling
and a voice that offered her sweet wine
when she stood at the window at night--
but no one ever asked Jake for her.
She lost track of the years;
caring for her father until
only his hoarse voice remained--
woman, Get me that bread.
woman, Where's that whiskey.

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Whispers in Wine:
Emmy Mateson
1870 -1929

Youngest daughter of Jake and Mollie Mateson. Took care of the White Owl until she died along with her sister in a snowslide in the winter of 1929. Unmarried.

Corn Chowder:
Soak dry ground corn for twelve hours; then put in a layer of onions, and then potatoes, all cut in exceedingly thin slices; stir, then corn, then onions, then potatoes again, stir, till your materials are all in. Split some hard biscuits, dip them in water, and put them round the sides and over the top; put in water enough to come up in sight; stir; stew for over half an hour on a low, clear fire, add half a pint of milk, or a teacup of sweet cream, five minutes before you take it up. -- From the Everyday Cookbook

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