Judy Katz

Family Once Removed and Who Cooks for You?
February 25, 2020 Katz Judy

Family Once Removed   
I like to be alone
in the house, but with signs
of family – keys
dropped in the coin dish,
a bathing suit
hanging from the shower head.
That kind of quiet –
a room just left, a solitude
you can swim in
and out of.
It’s like the feeling
I had growing up,
falling asleep Friday nights
in the crook of the brown
Naugahyde couch,
a crocheted blanket
thrown over my head,
lamplight filtering through.
I could hear everything
from there – my brothers
playing Monopoly nearby,
one sifting plastic houses
through his fingers;
and my mother rinsing glasses
in the kitchen,
the dishwasher rack
sliding into place.
I loved my family like that –
at a delicious remove –
their reassuring sounds,
their almost absence.

Who cooks for you? 
my husband intones
in my ear
as we lay in bed
in the country.

You do?  I laugh.
No, he says, that’s how you know
it’s an owl.
We hold each other
and listen to the strange call
at predictable intervals.

Who cooks for you?
Who cooks for you?
And because there is no
only the one voice
with the same question,
it feels as if the question
is meant for us,
circling us,
Who cooks for you?
Who cooks for you?
As if there will come a time
when the answer will be,
No one
cooks for you,
No one to cook for –
and a premonition
overtakes me,    so real
I can taste it for a minute –
does he sense it too?
not a present
one still out there
in the dark.

Judy Katz‘s poems have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Women’s Review of Books, Salamander, Bellevue Literary Review, upstreet and other online and print journals. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has been included in a number of anthologies, including Plume Anthologies 6 & 7.