by Wendy Barker, from Way of Whiteness (Wings Press, 2000)
Fourth grade cafeteria lunches. If you
brought your own you sat on the floor,
A sea of crowded children. I'd look inside
my paper bag for the cookies and sandwich:
cheese, or baloney, or peanut butter and
jelly on a good day. Sucking the last
bit of milk at the bottom of the carton.
When we dated, I would ask him, could we
stop to eat, and he would always say "Sure,
how about here," swing his bright white Healey
into the nearest drive-in. He'd always be ready
to eat, or cook, and even baked the first time
I stayed with him in his trailer. Made me
oatmeal raisin cookies, a double recipe.
In Guadalajara my uncle showed us around.
He knew just where to eat, knew the owners.
In the streets he cried, Look, people
are eating wherever they like, they simply
sit down on a curb with their lunch, eat
together right here in the square,
in Guadalajara it is always a picnic!
On the train we ate on the pull-down table,
I trimmed green onions with an army knife,
we shared a quiche we had bought in Chartres.
Cherries. We gathered the pits into a kleenex.
The train swayed from side to side, rocking.
We had the whole compartment to ourselves,
and finished two bottles of wine, easy.
South Padre Island, the end of August.
On the sand you hold a spoon to my mouth,
soft white ice cream on the spoon. I take
the cold in my mouth, hold it on my tongue
before I swallow. You put your spoon back
into the cup, offer again, Would you like
some more? Here. Have some more.
Wendy Barker is a professor and poet in residence at The University of Texas at San Antonio. She has published five books of poetry and three chapbooks. Her latest book is Nothing Between Us: The Berkeley Years (Del Sol Press, 2009), a novel in prose poems.
Thanks to Humanities Texas.