Cool spaces of the back rooms, dull blue refrigerator
doors, it’s June and the restaurant’s main phone rings
at all hours. There are crates of oranges, a hazy citrus
dessert coated in cobweb sugar, knives thin enough
to peel apples, knives for oysters, knives for lobsters
and bowls of sculpted butter in the shape of clams,
hearts, hands holding pearls like rosary beads.

I wonder if Abuelita’s rosary still hides in the back
room of the house. She used to keep powdered
sugar in Ziploc bags, she made coco helado in early
summer, milkshakes in the evening, she would have
handled the dinner rush with ease. Time is a root
around my heart, I come home smelling like vegetable
oil and soda bubbles, I crave coffee cake and huevos
whose crepe-paper encasements I once
discarded all over the floor of someone else’s wedding.

Por fin, my heart thrums once more at a steady beat,
I am still having dreams about my family but at least
I’ll be home soon, to see the seed of the moon appear
over the lake, to walk the gum-streaked streets of
Manhattan in late, jewel-toned July, I will leave
the restaurant and toss the ashes of my past into
the sea.

I must stop myself from running into the kitchen
to ask if I can lick the spoon. I must return to the
gods and the grills, the girls who’ve been waiting
tables for millennia, the green aprons and not-yet
ripe pears from the grocery store on 110 and Broadway,
I promise I’ll check all the drawers, I’ll take your
memories home with me. Come back to haunt me,
I could use an extra hand. We can press our hearts
between wax paper and hide them in the bottom
of your favorite gloss-toned blueberry pies. I’ll be
safe this time, but please call me in the morning,
just in case.


Sam Moe is a writer focusing on gastronomy and eco poetry. She is the first-place winner of Invisible City’s Blurred Genres contest in 2022, and the 2021 recipient of an Author Fellowship from Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. Her first chapbook, Heart Weeds, is forthcoming from Alien Buddha Press in September 2022 and her second chapbook, Grief Birds, is forthcoming from Bullshit Lit in April 2023.