Sunday, December 4, 2011

first hot meal

I remember it was quiet, just in off the street, and we sat in a first-come first-serve shuffle, everyone in hard heels, strangers of brother and sisterhood, avoiding eye contact, but no matter, my mouth was hurting for food. It was a clean hall, and new, but dim lit. Everyone needed a bath, all dressed in ill-fitting salvation clothes, the men with top button fastened and straight ties. Silent, expressionless ladies served thick, square, slices from loaves in clear bags with no writing, and the best ever fried baloney with crisp edges slid off a spatula of a second lady server, the one nearest me had a hairnet, but no safety net for her hairy arms.
I felt a nudge on my right elbow and wanted to ignore it, but the man said excuse me barely above a whisper and I felt compelled to clear my throat and excuse him. Our eyes met quick and I could see he had been crying.
It was so quiet. Me too, 'cause I was saying grace the whole time. And then about two rows behind me a new man said he'd sure like some hot coffee.

painting: Lunch
George Tooker, 1964


Blogger Tess Kincaid said...

I always read yours out loud, Phil...this one made me laugh...and then it made me cry...

12/04/2011 8:30 PM  
Blogger The Bug said...


12/05/2011 10:08 AM  
Blogger Helen said...

I've spent many an hour serving food in homeless shelters ... you describe the scene beautifully. (yes, I wear a hairnet.)

12/05/2011 11:25 AM  
Blogger Brian Miller said...

yeah man...i am right there..and the gentle whisper and the man 2 rows back...yeah i know them...

12/05/2011 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It made me think of two things ... separately. At 18 I let home and moved to Greenwich Village. I was very shy and had no self confidence. I sat at that counter many a lunch. :) Then it are me think of lunchtime today when the economy and the country is in the midst of a depression with no hope for so many. Your piece was excellent.

12/05/2011 10:57 PM  
Blogger He ment well (sometimes did) said...

Yes I wandered over here on a random click from mag pie and am glad I did! your story is beautiful, I will follow your blog now. Thank you!

12/06/2011 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think tess sed it perfectly

...everytime i come here i just crack up at that picture of watzhisname.. what a great actor!!! i think of that house falling around him..

12/06/2011 6:01 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

"no safety net for her hairy arms"

and "my mouth was hurting for food"

Talk about extreme feelings in this short write. I enjoyed it.

12/07/2011 11:59 AM  
Blogger Trellissimo said...

Intense feelings, you captured here...

12/07/2011 5:15 PM  
Blogger HyperCRYPTICal said...

An excellent write - there is so much to be said underneath our silence.

Anna :o]

12/09/2011 7:01 AM  

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