Five Points, Vol. 12 No. 1Spring 2008
From Philip Levine, “Shakespeare was never a king or a Roman, yet he can write about them.”
begins on Fish Day, which would be Tuesday. Fish Day is always on Tuesday. Sunday is Sandwich Day. Pasta Day is Monday. Wednesday is Wild Card Day, Thursday is Green Day—meaning all vegetables—and on Friday or Saturday we like to go out, or used to.
In this way or week progresses, meal to meal.
At any rate, I’ve prepared tuna steak, which in fact is what I usually prepare on Fish Day, a simple broil in butter and dill, but it isn’t very good, I’d overcooked it, forgotten the lemon: it’s dry. The broccoli’s a bit limp as well, but that’s Clara’s fault; she left it on the burner too long, had steamed out all the taste and fiber. So it’s a disappointing meal all around, but we eat it, the two of us, in our usual brooding silence. Sometimes there’s this quiet around a table that can drive you crazy. When you’re not talking, and all the other sounds crowd around you, the eating sounds people make, the silver against the plate, the ice cracking in your water glass. After a while it’s impossible to say anything at all without feeling as though you’re breaking some cosmic rule.
Clara, however, decides to give it a shot.
Out of nowhere she says, “You chew exactly the way your father does.”
So she’s been watching me chew.
I clear my throat and let a quiet moment pass before I speak.
“I have no idea what you mean by that,” I say. By which I mean to give her the benefit of the doubt.
“Nothing,” she says. “I don’t mean anything by it. It was just an observation. I happened to notice you chew exactly the way your father does, and I thought that was interesting, that’s all. You know, like father, like son.”
I put down my fork and knife, so they clink against the plate, and I look at her.
“Interesting in what way?” I say.
Clara, meanwhile, after completely disrupting my own dinner, has gone back to eating hers as though nothing had happened at all. “So how does my father chew?”