By Kevin Prufer
Featured Image: Ground Swell by Edward Hopper, 1939
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington
Just a glass of water for me, thank you.
One ice cube. Thanks. Just one.
But you should order what you want. Don’t be shy.
And don’t worry about me. Water is all I eat.
That ribeye looks promising, doesn’t it?
The charcuterie platter? The bay shrimp in a nest of deconstructed kale,
drizzled with truffle oil?
Get what you want and I’ll watch you eat, sipping from my glass of water
like a brilliant bird whose plumage once adorned ladies’ hats, but is now
available only on the black market,
please don’t mind me.
Did you read about how they beheaded another captured soldier?
Cut his head right off, clean as you like. I know, it’s
terrible. Awful, really. It ought to be a crime,
but the water flushes me out, gives me an inner clean. A kind of peace.
All this war must have been hard on you, the bodies and IEDs and the
music. It certainly was hard on our nation, and we weren’t even
there. Broccolini, yes. That’s for him. And the foie gras on toast with foraged
mushroom and lemon foam,
he’ll take that. I love the look of those cauliflower florets, like petite puffs of
The raviolini afloat in broth like misfired paratroopers!
You’re sweet, but much too thin. You should eat.
They’ll send you back and you’ll be nothing but bones
beneath skin. Did you see how they sliced his head right off?
What do you think of my hat?
Kevin Prufer’s most recent book, How He Loved Them (Four Way Books) won the Julie Suk Award and on the long list for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize. His next book, The Art of Fiction: Poems, will be published in 2021 by Four Way Books. For more from Kevin Prufer, visit http://www.kevinprufer.com
Originally appeared in NOR 17