I do not want to finish my potato,
but feel guilty not to finish my potato.
Many died for lack of potatoes,
but I don’t want it, that potato
mushed on my plate, unsalted and dry.
Oh I wish it was an orange potato,
sweet, pretty, brightly hopeful—
but this one’s white, or really yellow.
I’ve asked Mother, why, always potatoes—
can’t we sometimes have rice or turnips?
You know how your father loves his potatoes.
(But he’s gone, Mother, gone. He’s been gone for months.)
He’ll be back. And he’ll smell the potatoes
as he comes through that door, so happy to return
to a plate of potatoes—just eat your potato
Be thankful you’re not starving.
I’m thankful, I am, that I’m not starving, but
I do not want this goddamn potato.
Father’s chair’s empty as it will be tomorrow.
A lake in February—
flat, grey, smooth
and the skate blade
drives itself across the surface
though the sun beats warmer
each month passing so that even
in July, August, September the surface
glistens hard with figure 8’s, hopscotch grids,
criss-crosses. When people look at me
they hold their breaths, suck in.
What, what, so what? I yell.
You think your life’s any better than mine?
Yes, they all answer. So I’ve stopped going out.
And he keeps up the skating all year long.