Where is the dishtowel?
He cannot cook without it,
over one shoulder, a father
holding his baby of rainbow chard
and collards, his mind on the picture
of a building he passed, boards perfectly
held together, yet almost collapsed
in a field of fertile green.
Mortise and Tenon, he thinks,
as he open-handedly smashes garlic
with his big knife, not the small one,
the cloves split instant and fragrant
as the sky he wants to describe,
as they get thrown in the pot.
Next the onion, shallots for light
against the bitter greens. Sweetgrass
or field daisy he wonders,
counts syllables as he dices
the fibrous ribs, to be added
before delicate spinach
and multi-colored peppers.
Another word for pastel, the sky so pale
it looks like calm, a shallow sea.
His greens dark and herby, an angry ocean,
opposite of the word he needs.
He holds broth to the light, thinks tint,
thinks subtle, thinks this will be perfect
for his soup, and his poem.
He stirs and thinks. He chops
and thinks. Sound of stems
sound of walls
falling out of square but still standing,
like stubborn drunks in angry winds.
The timer. The keyboard. The punctuation
of spice and simile. The afternoon gives him
an inch of open curtain, a little grace
and inspiration, and supper, on the homefront.
Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Current chapbooks include “Down Anstruther Way” (Scotland poems) from FutureCycle Press, and her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).