Bypassing the Menu

— Dennis Noren

The customer is composed, prepared, confident.
With expectation flung from her voice:
“Egg whites, scrambled, with grated Swiss cheese,
dark rye toast, not buttered, raspberry jelly,
sliced tomato on the side,
small cranberry juice, unchilled,
and Earl Grey, water very hot.”
The waiter nods, furiously writing,
asking afterwards for her to repeat a point or two.
He gathers the unopened menu, and moves swiftly
to the kitchen, reviewing the order.
She pulls the bookmark from her novel.
A chapter waits to be finished.

I order from the menu, my safe friend.
There are careful descriptions of dishes,
crouched beneath catchy titles.
They sneak like roots of grass under stepping stones.
I settle onto one that has none of those foods
which disagree with me,
I never see between the spaces.

I fit. I merge well into the moment.
My food arrives hot and neatly flavored.
Under the lines of the Daily News,
it is my adopted breakfast,
Fifteen percent I leave on the table.
They did all that I asked.
An hour later in my measured day,
I cannot remember
the taste of breakfast.

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