A Minor History of Food by Tina Cane

                                                                  Please he waves as I reach for the dish of ice chips
and small salmon-colored sponge they have given him to moisten his mouth         No he rasps
Your tea the smell    steeped in bleachy water     my chamomile from the deli downstairs
is a sudden monstrous blossom whose fragrance fills the room     Jesus I say Sorry    and dumping my cup in the sink
I say Sorry in my head    for having snapped weeks back     Stop eating bread!     at that Italian restaurant on 23rd Street
two baskets in ten minutes     his last real meal on Earth    it turns out
                                                                                                                    Marijuana will be the new oregano
not just herbal MSG     as in the cheeseburger he ate with Bud Powell in Copenhagen 1962    the best burger
in his whole entire life     not because they were high    but because the best so often and earnest every time     Sorry
he once shouted rushing down the stairs to drive his night shift     I knocked your stash into the kitchen sink     Jesus
Dad! That’s catnip     Sorry in my head     now as I bury in my purse the wax paper bag of cookies I baked
for him with my kids
                                      for Marijuana will be     trying to smother the smell of butter I see
unfurling in golden curls     the new life he will complete elsewhere
                                                                                                                beyond my Jesus Sorry and oregano
Tina Cane is a poet, teacher and founder/director of the program Writers-in-the-Schools, RI. She hails from Hell’s Kitchen and downtown NYC and now lives outside of Providence, RI with her husband and three children. Her work has appeared in many journals over the years. Most recently, her manuscripts have been finalists in contests such as this year’s Dorset, Berkshire, First Book, Sunken Garden and Snowbound prizes–all from Tupelo Press.