Jennifer Wheelock



She was making one of her tiny meatloaves                
to take to a hospitalized church friend.
"Her toe died, and they had to
                              remove it."

How does
                              a toe die?

"I don't know, but hers up
and did. So I'm taking her
                              a tiny meatloaf. "

At this, I imagine
a meatloaf in the shape
                              of a big toe.



She and Dad were at Hardee's
having a charbroiled. "I just
had a corn cut off the bottom
of my foot. We felt
                              like a burger."



"My feet burn like hot coals.
I can barely walk on them."
I hold the phone away
from my ear. "Sorry
about the pounding noise.
I'm tenderizing
                              flank steak."



She shows me a sore on her ankle
swollen twice its normal size.
Does it hurt? "Yes, it's awful
sore. Kept me up all night.
By the way, for dinner
                              we're having shortribs."



I watch her shuffle about
the kitchen, hands shaking,
wrists barely holding up
against the weight
of a pot of potatoes.
This once-farm girl
who milked the cows,
their cloven hoofs
so essential to making milk,
so prone to going lame.




I talk every day via phone with my 87-year-old mother, who was once extremely active but in recent years has had chronic problems with her feet. I began to notice that in nearly every conversation we have, she follows a report about a foot issue with a report that she is having some sort of beef for the next meal. I found it so odd/interesting, I had to write about it.