Zen and the Art of Eating Inside a Restaurant for the First Time in Eleven Months
True Zen cocktails on the menu, plus glasses of Pepsi
served with straws masked by half their paper wrappers.
And strips of masking tape blocking off tables
on either side of ours. Tonight we’re the only diners,
though steady lines of people stream in
to pick-up orders—a parade of face masks
changeable as sushi rolls. We tell the waitress,
Eggplant with Rice and Beef Noodle Bowl. A pot of tea.
And then some quiet time to contemplate: forks
or chopsticks? pineapple via toothpicks or fingertips?
We pause together in this moment appearing
almost ordinary. Then lower our veils to take a sip.
What did your mother save
from your birth?
My neighbor tells of a village
of umbilical cords
dry as caked earth
puckering the Irrawaddy’s shores.
I see how mothers nowadays
Instagram their deliveries—
mementos sometimes muddy
with meconium—and how fathers
stream videos screaming
with a baby’s first howl. In 1993
my only daughter was born
to no story on Facebook.
Her skull crowned just right,
eyes ears lambkin tongue belly button
flawless. But my memory
labors now to piece & patch—
toboggan of her backbone
sleighing my vagina
of her mouth on my left breast.
Today I place at her feet this regret:
missing that long-ago winter
from my Albany Med bedside
was a river keeper who just
in the nick of time
wraps up a petrie dish of raw placenta
a pinch of button
a washcloth’s drop of milk.
Therese L. Broderick has lived in the Albany, New York (USA) region for most of her life. Her favorite definition of Poetry is: “language in orbit” (Seamus Heaney). Her old-fashioned website is “Terzanelles” at https://theresebroderick.