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Volume 12 • Number 2 • Fall - Winter 2020

Stephanie Cummings

A McDonald's in Saint Paul, Minnesota

The boy with even sideburns
and a new pair of kicks,
wolfs down a French fry,
not knowing it would be his last.

Hold up, second to last.

The mom with love in her hands
and an old pair of pants
hands him one more,
not knowing it would be his last.

She gets up and orders vanilla cones,
he finishes his last bite of cheeseburger;
a piece of pickle gets stuck in a molar.

Hold up, maybe it was a piece of onion.

Before he has a chance to dig in and find out,
she gestures to him, cones-in-hand;
he grabs their bags and they leave.

I can’t stop staring at them and I don’t know why.

Hold up, yeah I do.

The last thing my mom wanted to eat
was a Dairy-Queen vanilla cone.
I brought it to her, and
the next day she took her last breath.

The last thing I want to eat
is my mom’s fried chicken.
But that’s not happening.

In her honor, I exit with a cone;
a double rainbow appears
on University Avenue in Saint Paul, MN.


The “last fry” boy was beaten the next morning
while bringing the trash cans from the alley to the garage,
by two white boys with uneven sideburns and dirty shoes.

The next day he took his last breath.

Somewhere, wherever they are,
there are no more last meals.
Somewhere, wherever they are,
there is no last breath.

Somewhere, wherever they are,
there is fried chicken forever.

Hold up, and vanilla ice-cream cones, too.

Stephanie Cummings was born and raised in Saint Paul, MN, and has been calling New York City home for over 18 years. Eating at that McDonald's in Midway on a Saturday afternoon brings back a flood of memories from way back when, some good, some great. Forever she will have a basketball in her hands, dribbling down the streets of Saint Paul.