Tiffany Buck

Matchsticks, Anyone?

We got one bag of wheat left
And it’s gonna be a cold winter in these hills
Mama’s frail, Daddy works hard, but he’s gotta a hurt back, and the baby’s sick
That leaves me
Daddy comes home with a box of matchsticks
Didn’t tell us where he got’em
Told me to go out and sell every last one
No one’s gonna buy them
But it’s all we got to sell
To make myself look more presentable
I put on my Easter dress and wrap a scarf around me to keep warm
My boots are too small and make my feet bleed
So, I wear my church shoes
Old white patent with a worn down heel
From house to house, I walk in the holler
The flimsy dress attracts the cold
White patent shoes hurt my feet
My belly growls, demanding to be fed
There ain’t no food
At each house I ask
You need some matchsticks?
My answers
Door slammed in my face
Dogs barking
Dogs biting
At the last house, an old lady heard my stomach, so she gave me a piece of burnt cinnamon toast
Thank you ma’am
Your welcome, good luck –you’re gonna need it. We all are
I took the old woman’s discarded toast and ran up the hill by the lake
Built a fire with the matchsticks, nobody bought
Ate the toast as if I were a mouse, savoring the only meal I had that day
With the toast in my belly I started getting sleepy and mind racing to a fantasy that didn’t seem so far out of reach
A cabin with a big stone fireplace
Turkey, dressing, cranberries, on the table
Candy and biscuits
My maw maw busy in the kitchen
She looks up from the stove
Smiles big
Her arms wrap around me
I hug her tight and close my eyes


Tiffany Buck is a former librarian and a stay-at-home mom. She enjoys fairytales, German food, and watching foreign films. Her poems have appeared in the San Pedro River Review, Poetry Breakfast, and Rabble Lit.