Honorable Mention Winner in the 2012 Carolina Woman Writing Contest

Come to me my enriched pasta and rice,
packaged cheese and red powdered sauce—
I pull out the milk and water for you
on school nights when the kids
are starving for Beef Pasta or Crunchy Taco.
My husband prays for your buck a box special at Food Lion,
a week of dinners—just kidding—but seriously,
I did you three times a week
when we were first married.

Well-meaning friends demand I open
a cookbook once in a while—
there’s way too much salt
and MSG in your gloved Helping Hand boxes,
evoking a certain late pop star.
They tell me to avoid your yellow starches,
cook real pasta and veggies—forego the quick prep.
Run past Aisle 4—“Prepared Foods”—run!
And what the hell are you doing in Food Lion anyway?

They can keep their organic carrots and hand cut pasta;
I’ve got 27 Box Tops to collect for my son’s school.
I blame my mother—oh, I know, but it’s true!
She created all from scratch,
spent hours in the kitchen, and nary a Helper or a Kraft
noodle crossed my lips till I was 20.
Like skirts, pendulums swing
and I love your Italian, Chicken and Asian Helpers
over browned lean beef.

I promise not to burn you.