A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With A Spinach Salad

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By Rachel Brown


The longest trip I took this summer
Started at 2nd and Market, in Old City,

where I flirted with my parents
and cried over my spinach.

My father said they had some news.
“You’re pregnant,”

popped out, because everyone
was, or had been;

Benjamin and Hadass, a storyteller,
who decided to have a bris,

or had a bris without deciding;
Shula and Daniel, both rabbis,

who will not have a bris.
Helen, my friend since elementary school,

who is married in Christ to her husband Pete,
at whose wedding we danced the polka;

the couple I canned peaches with
before they moved to California.

But my parents are not
among these couples.

My father is dying.
During phone calls he doodles tight ovals

crowded against each other
traveling across stray envelopes.

In college he trained to be a sculptor
until he had an internship with Henry Moore.

Moore was always sketching and my father
did not want to draw. That left the soup spoon

as the only outlet
for the energy in his hands.

He turned it over and over with an easy grace.
The longest trip I took this summer

started when I put out my hand across the table
on top of my father’s hand, over the spoon,

and with his other hand he reached
for my mother to join us

as if, in a deep pit,
we were making a pact:

We would dig ourselves out
one mouthful at a time.

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