Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Poem About Leftovers

I mostly write at Long Cool Hallway these days, so I've badly neglected this here blog, but that's the nice thing about the Internet: things can languish here unattended for extended periods of time and then be resurrected! Or tossed a bone once in long, long while.

I'm going to try to post here more. Because I do, I do, I do still have a great love for food.

Let's kick off 2010 with a poem about leftovers (original here) inspired by my now-and-then work as banquet server:

The Rest Goes

I used a heavy silver fork to push
half-eaten filet mignon, lobster,
scallops, halibut
into a large round trashbin,
their respective sauces
swirled together with the discarded
swizzle sticks, lemon twists, lime wedges

the bin became a cornucopia of scents:
cream mixed with Crown Royal,
Bearnaise with Grey Goose,
citrus juice and Red Bull,
red wine and chardonnay and champagne–
the aroma of what money can buy,
what money can throw away.

I think about how my mother
was always so careful to pack up uneaten food,
her stories about starvation,
how she lived for years on
thin rice gruel and what she could forage.

After the Khmer Rouge regime finally fell,
after years of working nine, ten, twelve hour days,
after years of being able to afford
more than enough food to feed our entire family,

she still does not waste a grain of rice, a slice of beef,
always ready with a plastic container, a sheet of foil, a plastic bag,
she remembers what it was to want

With every porcelain plate whose
decadent leavings I pushed into that bin, I cringed
wondering what my mother would think.

It makes sense now
that expensive, “high-end” food
comes in such tiny servings–
the rich rarely take home doggy bags.


And all my online presences are now connected even more obviously. I'm going to be optimistic/positive about this.