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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