No matter that he shouldn’t,
that the doctor has already told him where this has led,
where this is leading (we already know),
still he leans over the stove, one hand bracing
against the counter—he leans like a building
grazed by the wrecking ball.
Still he’ll heat the bacon grease
for the gravy, gloss the butter over the top
of the cornbread, grate ribbons of cheddars
and mozzarellas for the mac and cheese. And though
he’ll carve the chicken perhaps a bit too carelessly,
as his thumb twitches so close to the knife’s
inclination, tender, tenderly, he’ll rest
the bird into the oil, so gently that even it wouldn’t
complain, could it.
Though beads of grease spring and somersault
over the burners so close to the hand, the arms
scarred brown in sloppy patchwork; though
the swollen legs, the aching back nearly give
as he peeks through the oven door; though
he has made too much, too late, in this kitchen
for himself; though he may falter once, only once, before
he brings the fork to his mouth, still he does, and again,
and again; though the cluttered countertops, the sink full
of dishes, the empty plate, the knife blade, the fork tines, all
messied with intention, seem to say, Look how you’ve hungered;
though he hasn’t, though he isn’t, he will eat.
Copyright © 2019 Maya Phillips
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.