When we travel we tend to notice the details, the fine print, the hidden salt and pepper shakers, better. We allow ourselves to break our own patterns and habits, we allow ourselves to try new things and accept deviations like butter on our English muffin, we allow a different world. This poem captures the sense of gratitude, awareness, and wonder on a room service tray.
If you’ve ever had one you know what I’m saying:
soggy with steam, too much butter soaking into the crevices.
At first you’re mad—you told them butter on the side—
but then you’re grateful to have it. Day after day
you eat it dry, now away, alone on business
in your overheated hotel room,
you’re grateful for the butter, indebted to strangers
wearing hair nets in a distant kitchen for slathering your muffins,
tucking them into a cloth napkin, placed in a mesh basket,
variety of colorful jams for you to choose.
It’s enough joy just to take that first bite, if you’re lucky
it’s still warm even after the long elevator ride.
If you’re lucky there’s a yellow single stem rose in a bud vase,
shiny silverware poking out of the starched white napkin.
Why give me a fork, you think? You ordered coffee and a muffin,
why complicate it with a fork? And then you spot the tiny
salt & pepper shakers in the shadow of the napkin, and you wonder,
does anyone, no matter how troubled, put salt & pepper
on their English Muffins? Maybe.
Maybe when they’re far from home.
“Room Service English Muffins” by Kim Dower from Air Kissing on Mars. © Red Hen Press, 2010. From the Writer’s Almanac http://writersalmanac.org/page/2/