claims the cool glass bottle,
pure beads of condensation
running down its neck,
the shade of her lace
in case it peers through,
fizzing every time
he walks by, meets her eye,
shakes her up
never popping the cap
to release all the tangerine bubbles—
trapped and sparkling,
a carbonated volcano.
We sit with others, yet we’re alone at this table
to sample soup in this unnatural state.
Chilled, raw, only relief from the July sun.
No steam veil to hide behind.
Your eyes drift, and I scold without a word;
I don’t know why I meet you here
at this corner café for gazpacho.
Don’t know why you always lure
me back, across from you.
You’re no Harry. I’m no Sally.
We stopped believing in the movies
a long time ago. This soup’s not hot—
we could jump right in, both preferring
to spoon around the edges as if it were fire.
Your eyes ignite as I bring up
Warhol’s soup cans, the art of soup.
Why can’t I just savor the cool, tomato texture?
You tell me Frank’s gone, your mother’s last chance
at love. I will always hear his raspy voice
sing out Stella. I linger long enough for you
to scrape the ceramic bowl, before
I wave my white cloth napkin and run.
Tonight I feel like a store-bought cookie,
cheap imitation of real mother’s love.
Snapping at the children and ushering
them to bed early, I don’t even
remember why. Too short on the patience
I sprinkle students, sifting through their run-on stories,
text-message thinking, Shakespearean doubts.
I must fold time to mix two sticks of butter,
one teaspoon vanilla, a few cups flour,
farm-fresh eggs, three pinches love,
and a bag of genuine chocolate chips,
so I can offer my kids the same compassion
I disperse so freely during the day—
instead of preservatives and saccharin
in a plastic container.
Lisa Wiley is an English professor at Erie Community College in Buffalo, NY. Her poetry has appeared in Beyond Bones, Earth's Daughters, Epiphany Magazine, Seven Circle Press, Teaching English in the Two-Year College and Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine.