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Tuesday, February 15, 2022


by Bonnie Proudfoot

Warm some olive oil, let it spread  
slowly across the bottom of a saucepan,
sauté chopped garlic, watch bubbles form 
around the edge of each morsel,
chop red pepper, some mushrooms,
some onions, use bite sized pieces, watch 
them soften, watch the onions turn 
golden, use vegetables so fresh 
that they offer up their essence 
to the sauce, add some chopped tomatoes, 
crush basil leaves between your palms, 
add a dash of red wine, fresh ground pepper, 
meanwhile bring salted water to a rolling boil,
add vermicelli or linguini, stir as the steam
fills the air, inhale. Then one by one
subtract the smells, the extra virgin olive oil,
the garlic infusion, onion, mushrooms,
the tomatoes ripe and juicy, 
the warm semolina, shaved parmesan, 
subtract the taste too, so the pasta
tastes like paper, the sauce, some warmish swill,
the vegetables add a bland kind of texture,
something to chew on, softer than stones,
sort of, the red wine is not worth the cost,
not really worth the trouble of decanting,
swirling. Subtract the guests at the table, 
add candles where they used to sit, 
relatives, neighbors, doctors and nurses, 
songwriters, teachers, students, bartenders,
barbers, and servers, 900,000 Americans.
Feed the birds, set the table for one,
watch clouds move across the sky,
say Mass, say Kaddish, say Grace,
try to remember how it used to taste.
Bonnie Proudfoot’s fiction and poetry has appeared in The New Verse News, Rattle Poets Respond, and in many journals. Her novel Goshen Road (Swallow Press, 2020) was selected by the WNBA for its Great Group Reads and long-listed for the 2021 PEN/ Hemingway award. Her first chapbook of poems, Household Gods (Sheila-Na-Gig Press), is forthcoming in  Summer of 2022.