Burnt Offerings

Ben, at 28, still won’t eat
broccoli unless crisp black crackles
the tips of the green florets, giving
them a collapsing crunch and dissolving
into the smoky aftertaste he learned
to love as a child.

Never deceived by golden-brown pancakes
begging for butter, for the syrup’s sweet
ooze, he knew to flip them, one by one,
uncovering flat, black undersides, scraping
or discarding, as needed, the evidence
of my distraction.

And when he saw me clatter downstairs, stumble
into a smoke-filled kitchen, lost in the hazy
trance of a new poem, I like to think he learned
two things–that work can be joy, and perfectly
cooked broccoli is just one of love’s
many disguises.


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