Cooking for One Again, I Look in the Refrigerator
Old eggs ignore me,
plump and smug little suburbanites
aloof in their gated community:
they are organic
they are nicely tanned
their mama was a free-range looker
their daddy was a real player.
The eggs have just been killing time,
sterile, wracked with cholesterol,
aging in the dark.
Don’t ask the yogurt about its age, it’s so sensitive.
The eggplant lies quietly, it cannot stand up.
It has glimpsed the Cuisinart and the gaping oven.
Dante could not have invented such diabolical engines.
The anorexic carrot shrinks around itself like an old man.
Bass Ale looks eager for a party.
It travels in packs, like college sophomores,
dressed to impress, already loaded.
But all alike, predictable and tedious.
The tahini has drowned in its shallow tub.
The juice carton promises radiant health,
bright colors under that waxy skin,
but inside the orange juice stagnates in darkness.
The bleu cheese is already rancid, what a nihilist.
The red pepper made promises when young.
I was proud to show it off on the conveyor belt.
But it has grown old, soft, unloved.
Only the gray mold will have it now.
Two old scallions embrace in some awful suicide pact.
That catsup will never die, no, but it will never really live,
not like toasted sesame oil sweet-talking snow peas,
not like wasabi teriyaki sauce arousing caramelized tofu.
Those were the days.
The broccoli looks absurd in its limp gray wig.
A cabbage cowers in the bin below, bald and paunchy.
It is hiding, like a little Saddam,
beneath the lacy skirts of the fading parsley.
The walnut chutney is still hanging around.
oblivious to its own pointlessness.
It was once so promising, so elegant.
Extra-firm tofu lies sealed in its leak-proof casket.
Its only epitaph is that mocking use-by date.
I can see my own pallid reflection
in the smoky plastic door
of the butter mausoleum.
Tonight this loser cauliflower will taste the knife.
Pale and old, it will cry out for the sensuous oil,
dying to embrace wild young garlic,
to couple spasmodically with hot, exotic chilles.
Too soon this last fantasy stir-fry orgy will cool.
Like an undertaker’s cosmetics, curry and ginger
can not fully distract us from plain fact.
The cauliflower will lie dead on the table,
interred in an indifferent bowl,
next to the indifferent chopsticks,
like an undated obituary photo
naked before indifferent eyes.
Cooking for One Again, I Look in the Refrigerator was published in Streetlight in 2006