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A Meal Not Eaten


ISSUE:  Summer 2003
“Somewhere there’s an uneaten Chinese dinner with our name on it.”
   —Overheard

The wonton soup drifts in warm fog
just out of reach. Dragons circle
the bowl as if to guard the one
pink shrimp that bobs like a dead
sea-monster. Wisps of steam

curl off the twice-cooked
pork and chopped bok choy.
The Emperor’s Chicken is here too:
sliced red and green peppers,
black mushroom-gongs, white

meat glistening in glaze. We feed
each other between kisses, screened
by our red leather booth, ignoring
the vines that loop and dangle
overhead, the waiters gliding

back and forth, so unobtrusive
it’s as if platters fly solo through the air.
One floats toward us, bearing
orange-halves offered
in their bowls of pebbled skin.

Fortune cookies’ brittle purses
enfold futures that, like this past,
never occurred. I didn’t pay
the bill, open her door, or drive her
to my house, where we never

made love in this bed where I lie now,
in which I can almost touch her,
asleep beside me as my wife,
though she is not, and hasn’t been
for a long time.

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