The Dinner War

We were prepping parsnip pie.
Jack began chopping and I stirred the soup.
We watched it blend,
Noses to the roasting chestnuts
in the pan, fingers occupied with apples
Jill and I tasting Jennifer’s recipes
Josh set the table while
Blake planned dessert and
Courtney counted out glasses
Service for 13 would be required
And all of this set to the exhilarating background
music of the Magnificent Seven. Yee-Haw.

Tidbits of news from passers through the kitchen
filtering our information like the Ethiopian import brewing at my elbow
And I can’t hear the radio upstairs announcing
what? the fate of the world? is it really?
I can’t understand how we can stand in the kitchen
and plate up Brussels sprouts and bacon
and just ignore our country, but I have
no desire to turn on the TV instead of chopping
butter into cobbler topping.

My poem was sitting on the kitchen table,
and Jill edited my cantos on Erato
while Jennifer itinerated:
Soup, sprout-squash-parsnip-pie-platter, salad, cobbler, in that order,
and with free-flowing shiraz.
I stirred lentils or fennel
which are the same in poetry, so it doesn’t matter that I don’t remember now.
Ominous, luminous, you know?
We made jokes about freedom fries and toast and wine,
but we weren’t writing or fighting that night.

We were prepping parsnip pie
when we declared war.
Who are we anyway?
It’s hard to tell from CNN
And it’s hard to tell from the kitchen
Where we continued to stir and simmer:
Were we more at war or more at work?

I stood and stirred the roux, pouring in lentils carefully as I could,
but I’m sorry... I was clumsy, and everything else fell into the soup
and soon it was all stirred together
and on the gas stovetop,
raw food cooked into war.

Suddenly we only had 48 hours to get dinner on the table,
and I think we needed Halal meat.

One day the Government will try to
free my dinner guests.
They’ll call it Operation Chickpea Freedom.
Until then, I’ll serve War with a garnish.

A river of tears trailed through the kitchen,
broadcasting from upstairs,
While Jack chopped shallots
And Jill came tumbling after.
No, you see, it got confused again.
We were all crying over the onions, I think...
Everything is just messed up.
I must have spilled everything.

Adrienne D. Mishkin