Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pot Roast

confined to bed
and sensing her demise
she asks for boiled beef

though I am repulsed by meat
and haven’t a clue
how to prepare it
I nod and promise her pot roast
as her eyes brighten

what I refused to do for my children
or my husband
I now do for her

just as I made myself
carry a phone
so she could reach me
I now teach myself
the art of the pot roast

after all I have watched my mother-in-law
enough times
sprinkling the roast with salt and pepper
searing it
stewing it with potatoes and carrots
how hard can it be?

pot roast might’ve saved my marriage
(if I had wanted it saved)
if I had occasionally purchased
a nicely marbled english roast
and simmered it until it fell off the bone
as a simple act of kindness

it might’ve saved my molars from root canals
the mineral-rich broth curing tooth decay

it might’ve taught me
the dialectics of sacrifice and compromise
honoring the steer
that gave its life
for others to thrive
even a very very old woman
who still has enough teeth to chew tender meat

and now for the first time since she’s left us
I rub a roast with sea salt
and freshly ground black pepper
I quarter onions and slice carrots
I throw in some thyme and parsley
from the field street garden
and leftover wine from her repast

I eat pot roast alone now
the portion I would have saved for her
gets tucked into the freezer

as I age
I too crave boiled beef
the fatty broth
and the carrots that melt
between tongue and upper palate

in her honor
I chop, sear, simmer
as the onions bring salty tears
I pull the meat off the bone
then boil the bones until they disintegrate
I take the nourishment
as my bodily memorial

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