Fry Cook


Out of the Joint till five on Work Release.
Need breakfast, can’t go home. No room 
at the counter except between two large men
with patriarchal beards. I slice myself a place,
murmur an apology and we shrink inside our bodies 
inside our parkas like yard bags tied at the neck.
Ah but the cook takes the oval eggs, twists them 
open as if his gentle hand were on 
his love’s white thigh, lifts the bowl, forks the suns, 
stirs a lemon afternoon, cracks a whip
of light, lets the eggs leap, slide. At last he turns 
his knife into the curdled edge and sets
their boundaries. His hands dip to water,
then seize the shredded flesh of potatoes,
slap them glistening to the warm secret
heart of the omelet, and small gray thumbs
of mushrooms, now translucent green peppers,
now red, now onions, now quicker than words
spoon them to the center, close golden doors
left, right, like a triptych. My neighbors smile.
Brothers! Our hunger is not for this food
but excellence, the law of his two hands,
their articulate dance. Brothers! Let us
lean together over the work of this
artificer, as over the Law sway
the priests and the rabbis, speaking praise.





Carol Masters is the author of You Can't Do That: Marv Davidov, Nonviolent Revolutionary, Nodin Press; and The Peace Terrorist: short stories, New Rivers Press. She lives in Minneapolis, MN. 


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