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Friday, July 07, 2017


by Peggy Turnbull 

A Meals on Wheels cook moves trays down the line to be packaged. (Josh Galemore/Associated Press) —“Mr. President, come take a ride with Meals on Wheels,” The Washington Post, April 7, 2017.

A cruciferous scent wafts
from the institutional kitchen
where a helper drops cheese
on a main dish we can’t identify.
We cover foam trays tightly
in plastic wrap, pile them high
in an insulated carrier, grab
cold lunches from steel carts.

Eat your bread in happiness.

At subsidized senior apartments
we roam dim corridors, step
on well-worn carpets, pound
on thin doors. We enter a den
of cigar smoke. Across the hall
Yorkshire terriers bark. Ladies
in the lobby are excited
about the Brussels sprouts.
We ring the light for the deaf woman,
who gestures for us to tie
her high-topped leather shoes.
A paper towel is her placemat.
Her plate and fork are ready.

Eat your bread in happiness.

A corridor reeks of bowel movement.
The elevator smells of kitty litter. A man
isn’t dressed, asks us to pass his meals
through the gap in the chained door.
We deconstruct the cold lunch, hand
him a milk carton, squeeze a sandwich
through.  We leave the building, hold
our noses at the urine soaked entrance.      

Eat your bread in happiness.

Peggy Turnbull lives in Wisconsin near Lake Michigan.  Her poems have recently been published in Verse-Virtual, The Young Ravens Literary Review, and Snapdragon.