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Yellow Pencil and Cream Cheese

Uncle Barry would fill in the squares

of the Times crossword puzzle with a yellow pencil

while aunt Lilly was making

her weekly batch of cream cheese.


She had left a bottle of milk on some sunny

windowsill for a few days until the contents turned sour

then, carefully separating off the whey

she poured the curds into a muslin cloth

and knotted the top, leaving the bag to drip into

the sink until the sour mess solidified softly

into creamy cheese.


The taste was wonderful as was the notebook

we found after they both passed on containing Barry’s

penciled poems and Lilly’s delicate

watercolor illustrations.


We never discovered what went sour in their

relationship causing them to separate after

so many years; he moving to a retirement home

and she going to live with her widowed sister.


But the penciled poems and colorful flowers

remain with us as a testimony to their

mutual love and collaboration.


And the cream cheese was the most delicious

we’ve ever tasted.

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© Johnmichael Simon



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