What We Ate

by Dana Lichty

Abbie bounced on my husband’s back,
her baby hands patting his bald head as we strolled
into Murray’s Sturgeon Shop. Art (who, I swear,
had been behind the counter since birth) immediately sliced
an ungodly amount of free lox, handed it to Abbie.
Gone, like so many things, in a Nova Scotia instant.

Chloe, three years old, begged to eat at Szechuan House.
Smiling waiters offered little dim sum dishes
of extra spicy food so they could watch
Chloe devour it. Hair and hands greased, she sat
in a sticky high chair, guzzling hot and sour soup,
her joy interrupted only by wails of Don’t want to go.

The girls grew into full-size seats while our marriage shrank,
unraveled like the lopsided sweaters my mother-in-law knitted.
But my 40th birthday was a hopeful affair where we served
oysters, champagne, beef Wellington and dark chocolate cake.
These aphrodisiacs were not catalysts for love. Nestled
beside me, Abbie and Chloe fell asleep, oblivious.

At dinner on a red-gold fall Sunday, soccer games played,
maple leaves raked, and a delivery from Joey’s of Riverton
spread out on an old oak table, we told our daughters
about the divorce. Decades later, they tell me
we were eating onion rolls and spicy sausage pizza topped
with peppers, black olives, and fresh garlic.

Dana Lichty wrote thousands of proposals, reports and letters during her thirty-five-year fundraising career in New York City’s non-profit community, but she never wrote poetry before moving to Asheville in 2011. Now it is her passion. The Great Smokies Writing Program is where she got started.