“Why not eat potato salad on Christmas,
is there a law?” Then you would describe
tomatoes, picked green in September,
wrapped in newspapers, stored in an
attic until Yuletide when, red like pulp
from the vine, they were ready for eating
You wanted to greet Noel with corn
on the cob, a thick juicy steak hot
from charcoal heat. Holiday turkey could
stay stiff in the freezer, or chase a female
through barnyard straw, wild and free
from roasting oven and giblet gravy.
Macaroni salad, a grilled hot dog sealed in
toasted roll, with mustard, relish, running juice,
was a feast worthy of the Savior’s birth.
You made that clear, and every year I
waited for your grimace, playing off cabbage,
creamed onions, oyster stuffing, candied yams.
Now, I am refusing summer, leaving the grill
unlit, potatoes raw, eggs uncooked, celery
gritty, scallions whole. I pass by ears of corn,
hear you shout, “Stop, stop.” I answer back,
“I don’t want to eat it alone,” and walk by.
“Then make potato salad,” you whisper.
Your words bring flavors to my tongue.
I think of mayonnaise laced with sweet pickle,
the crunch of green, the soft firmness of spud
and egg. I look up and try to see your face,
feeling a surge of hunger, warmth, happiness.
“Maybe I will,” I say, “maybe I will.”
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Posted with kind permission of the poet.