five courses

Corn blinis, pan-fried golden-brown in butter, topped with garlic chives, sweet corn cut from the cob and créme fraîche. Their savory sweetness melts away the day's sour mood. My hair tied back, I feel the breeze on my neck and fingering through my sweaty t-shirt. Here my spirit, worn thin and ragged, finally has room to breathe.

Ice cubes clink in a glass half full of bourbon.

The smell of sauteéd onions lingers, makes me feel warm and secure, even loved. I hear Calvin playing lightly in his bed before drifting off to his drug-induced sleep. The chef, my husband Michael, steps inside offering the second course. The screen door slaps shut behind him but I don’t jump. Eggplant soup: the nightshade vegetable thought to induce seizures in some. It’s light and lemony, the color of fennel or Parmesan. Flat beads of olive oil laced with spice drift amongst a fresh parsley garnish. I am weightless and, at the same time, grounded in a green plastic chair.

A blue jay caws then swoops in for a drink of water.

Next, my watering mouth meets a Tomato Niçoise adorned with capers, olives and fresh basil leaves. Its succulence makes me drunk. Anchovies drape across seedy wedges as red and weeping as raw meat. I catch the faint scent of phlox. As we sit quietly in the garden’s embrace the landscape whirls in the wind like prairie grasses or waves. It is not static. Slowly, I feel my body—my mind—unfurl.

Red wine floods a large goblet.

I close my eyes with each bite, try to make it last, try to stay in the moment, try not to worry about or dread my son. Dusk is falling and I hear Calvin whimper, but only in his sleep. In comes a platter of sweet peppers cradled in my husbands hands. They’re halved like hearts, stuffed with feta, topped with crispy, olive oil-infused bread crumbs, then baked. I tear at their meat like a dog. Juicy. Ripe. Piquant. Somehow, I’m in another world with flavors new to me though also familiar. Am I in Greece? Turkey? Italy? No. But it doesn’t matter. I’m home. I am thankful.

Crickets chirp like crazy in the grass.

Lastly, coconut milk, cardamom and blackberries spooned over vanilla ice cream. By this time the silence is sublime and I can only see the outline of things, imagine creatures in the shadows where I hear twigs snap. I touch Michael's arm. My belly is full, my body tired, my mind sleepy. I’ll dissolve into the night like a lozenge and, later, I’ll wake myself from a dream-seizure calling out Michael’s name. I'll sneak in to see Calvin soundly asleep and beautiful.

An egg of a moon glows amidst a black sky, and though I can't see many, I know there are billions and billions of stars out there.

1 comment:

  1. So beautiful -- your replenishment, the taking in of nourishment, always, always edged with dread.