The Ritual of Supper

Tonight you are preparing baked chicken and potatoes,
boiled corn, cheap merlot.
I watch the way you fix your eyes on the butcher knife,
the séance of the seasonings.
If I’ve never told you, you always lay the salt down first,
then the pepper, then the special stuff.
We never talk as you’re doing this,
I never ask about your day in a claustrophobic office,
you never wonder if I’d gotten off my ass.
This is just how it is
each evening I’m convinced we’ll die this way.
After the potatoes are sliced,
everything goes into the oven,
you walk to the bedroom to fish tomorrow’s outfit,
I follow you and finish a beer.
We start to talk as you’re ironing,
about our nieces and nephews, weekend dinner plans.
We never mention the recent affair
or wet dream you had last night.
The walls know when the food is complete,
you pull things out, poke and prod, slice and taste.
As you prepare our plates you ask
do you need some more,
and each evening we age, stuff our faces,
point fingers at the folks next door.  

—Derrick Harriell, Milwaukee, WI