Elegy to Two Cans of Soup
Even now, I pause in the soup aisle
and marvel that a thing so trifling —
as a waxy red label tickled yellow
by fluorescents keeps such faith with clarity,
that a pop art display of stacked tin
speaks such sense to my reshaped self.
Once, he said I had a can too many,
an inequitable separation.
I gave him two: Chicken Noodle
and his favorite Bean with Bacon.
Hungry for himself, he turned away;
a can in each hand ended two decades together.
He bet the house on an ultimatum.
Counting righted his loss.
Like a penitent at the altar, my cart stutters
in front of tasteless noodles and watery broth
its braked wheels reminding me
to give thanks for the birthright purchased
at the bargain basement price
of two cans of soup I never replaced.
When I moved out,
I rolled naked on new carpet.
Laundry baskets stayed empty.
I would never buy bar soap
or Red Delicious Apples again.
Free as I was in the tufted plush,
I made just-in-case spaces to share:
a cove beside the couch
cool in the heat of the afternoon,
a hammock in the window well
for twilight and English Ale.
We had been June and October,
like a cakewalk so long,
I thought I might hear our music
again when Fall followed Summer,
before Winter winds
put our bare bodies on ice.
I didn’t know then how climate change
would scorch my tilled ground,
turn our old weather cycles
into a Mississippi swamp
and leave me warm year round.
Janet Reed teaches writing and literature for Crowder College in Missouri. She is a Prius-driving, Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging flower child whose poems reflect the conversations she has with voices in her head. She is a 2016 Pushcart nominee whose work is forthcoming in multiple journals. She is busy working on her first chapbook.