Watching the salted
water rolling softly
in a shiny pot, I realize
wouldn’t know me now:
no olive oil in the house,
putting butter on the pasta
when it’s done…shaking cheese
out of a can onto the sticky pile
in the bowl.
This is hunger, I’d tell her
if she was here: I’m just hungry.
She’d frown, her lips turned down
the same way her hands curved and curled
over the wooden stick she used
to roll the fresh dough out for her spaghetti,
her quadretti, her wandi.
Always a white enamel pan
full of meat and sauce in the ancient fridge —
but she never called it sauce. It was always gravy.
She could lay out a meal, nothing fancy,
just good food that satisfied,
in no time. I’m fast too
when it’s time to eat,
but it’s not the same.
And I don’t know how
to make it so. So instead
I turn my back on her
and stuff the naked noodles into me
and try to fill myself. I’ll likely eat
the whole pan, fall asleep
early, and wake up still hungry.
In the morning I’ll stare
into the fridge and look for
gravy in a battered pan.
And I won’t cry. Not again.
Eros is an armed toddler,
only welcome when he comes as metaphor.
If he showed up on your street
you’d call the cops, or Children’s Services,
and you’d huddle behind the bed
while they took him in and stay there
until it was safe to walk upright
in your own home again.
The same goes
for Hermes or Poseidon: naked hunk
with winged heels and a helmet or a bearded guy
with a trident, fer Chrissakes. Who these days
would cheer their presence on the street?
Not one of us would heed a myth
if it showed on the hoof in a preferred form.
Maybe that’s always been true.
You hear about Zeus coming down
to make time as a bull or a swan,
visiting his victims in borrowed identities;
this is that whole “mysterious ways” thing,
isn’t it? We can’t be comfortable with
the full face of the divine.
We can apparently only take note of the gods
when they sneak up on us.
So who killed you, beloved?
Which one did this?
Who was it
who tore me up and left me here on the floor
curled up in fear in front of the news?
Who was that lurking
behind the answering machine message that stopped
my heart for good this morning?
Which of those insane, incestuous, venal little avatars
took you in a public place, slit you like an envelope
and stole the precious news of you from me
before I ever read it through and understood it?
I get you, Olympus. Get you good.
Don’t even bother trying
to get right with me. No mask
or artifice is going to work.
If whoever it was thinks
I will ever sacrifice to them again,
If you think
I’ll ever trust another stranger
not to be a bastard god in disguise again,
You killed her.
No mortal would have had the heart to do it.