Saturday, September 7, 2013

Joseph Robert Mills: "Standing Before Shelves of Cookbooks and Trying to Decide What to Make for Dinner"


Most of these I’ve never used,
although each time I bought one
I was convinced that I would,
just as I thought I would read
the pile of parenting books
that now spills under the bed,
or the texts on physics,
stars, and string theory
stacked next to my desk.
I used to check out hundreds
of library books, hoping somewhere
in the pages would be the advice
I needed to make something
with the ingredients of my life,
yet each day ends up being
another hasty improvisation
with nothing measured cleanly
and no clear sequence to the steps.
Still, I continue to believe
in the idea of simple solutions,
ones as elegant as a wheel.
I remember how someone said
the best Italian dishes have no more
than four ingredients with the key
being freshness and quality,
how Archimedes claimed he could
move the world with a long enough lever
and a solid place to stand,
how the most powerful sentence
in the Bible is “Jesus wept.”
So later, after dinner, whatever it is,
I will navigate the dark bedrooms
of my children, threading past
piles of books, toys, and clothes,
until I stand before them,
the daughter and the son,
each asleep, wrapped in sheets
like loaves of fresh bread,
and I will murmur a kind of prayer:
May you recognize the wheel
of your days. May your faith
and friendships be flavored
with tears. May you find love
like a lever and a place to stand
together. May you have a life as
satisfying as a good Italian dish.



"Standing Before Shelves of Cookbooks and Trying to Decide What to Make for Dinner" by Joseph Robert Mills, from Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet. © Press 53, 2012.

Photography credit: Alexis Stewart (originally color).


 

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