This sort-of poem popped out today- a departure from how I usually write:
In Defense of Food Fatality at the Nursing Home
I’m a threat to their residents,
bringer of forbidden foods
that didn’t arrive on the Sysco truck last week
with all the others.
My offerings have not been pre-portioned,
scrutinized for nutrients,
stip-searched for salt,
mashed into denture-proof mush.
Not popped out of plastic with gloved hands
onto plates for these seemingly sleepy people,
their senses arrested in forced dormancy.
I sneak in kalamatas,
squeaky cheese curds,
my mother and her friends never forgetting to put in a new request:
“Will you make my mother’s pickled beets?”
“Bring more frozen custard- the fattening kind from Michael’s, please!”
I don’t spend nights fretting about accidentally
ending someone’s dementia life-sentence
with raw eggnog, a slosh of homemade wine,
or the gob of fresh golden butter that magically
evokes new stories about a long-ago farm.
Mom’s housemates follow me around,
at times groping my pockets
for possible fruits and nuts.
“Whadaya picking these days,” they ask in frozen February,
with hungry minds that have no fences.
At times they proclaim, “You’re an old-fashioned girl,”
claiming me as one of their own,
the bringer of foods that remember their roots,
crisp kohlrabi, rhubarb fool;
sprigs of mint, thyme, and rosemary
turn the blankest stare to a knowing smile.
What person would check herself into an endless sterile death?
Put me in a place where I can pluck apples with worm holes,
dig dirty carrots,
and drown in the bacon fat dressing on my dandelion salad,
if I please.