by Sarah Forer

 

by Marie Powell

New York Times

buzz of 2 AM traffic drives you
into the diner where Iason serves
greasy eggs with bacon Americans
he says eat the same every day
and tip us for remembering he shares
his sautéed scrod from home and asks

so you ride the Double-D
its lurch and reek and sudden
darkness Ela he dances
sirtaki down crowded aisles and you

laugh at streetside stores and kiosks
cracker snacks in orange packages
steam melting iron grates until
a woman cries where are you
do you know

stars above his tenement roof warm
your bare shoulder yassou
as the ouzo numbs your tongue

***

Lady Clutterbuck’s Dinner Party

Lamb’s head, oyster sauce, and Scotch minced collops,
add a pinch of salt and a kiss for luck.
His dear lips, welcome in my kitchen; tart
or savory, his words are sugar to my ears.

After supper, tête-à-tête at the parlor table –
this soup, that pudding –  guests well fed
and children happy. Your menus deserve
sharing, he tells me. The jest takes root

as a book for me to write, even as our love
takes root, our ninth child, faint
ripples I cannot share. We have the world
on their knees before us.

Our family a model for his reformer’s zeal,
he turns to household matters, my book, born
at our kitchen table. How can I tell him to expect
another child, when he calls me Lady

Clutterbuck. I laugh to hear her voice –
my voice – in his mouth. Cooking,
tasting, writing. One arm across my lap.

~~

You are too kind. If only my book proves half the bounty
of your compliments. But where else did you think
my husband brings his friends, if not my table? Where,
when he roams the streets, does he return,
if not to me? Look, the baby, Edward. Lusty, his father
says. Nay, he would be our tenth, were it not
for the ague last summer. How he cries and cries, poor
Edward. My arms, it seems, little comfort.

See your father, Edward? They will say
he never wrote me in his books. No character
traced back to me. Yet is that not my
food upon his tongue? My stuffed mutton his
characters devour? My radishes and greens? My
bread pudding with cheese to end? See how he thumbs
the recipes in my book? I cannot help
but hope – so savory he must wipe his mouth –
even as his eyes wander
off the page.

-Inspired by Lady Maria Clutterbuck, pseudonym of Catherine Thompson Hogarth Dickens (1815-1879), What Shall We Have For Dinner? Satisfactorily Answered by Numerous Bills of Fare for from Two to Eighteen Persons (1852).

 

About the photographer: Sarah Forer currently lives in NYC. She is a sixth grade teacher on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She enjoys traveling, writing and running. Find more of her photography at her travel blog vsco.co/sefabroad/.