I myself am an ex-wife and I’m also the wife cooking dinner during an ex-wife phone call. I feel the discomfort of intrusion from both perspectives. It is the unwelcome reminder that I am not the center of anyone’s universe as young love believes. I feel the pang of the poem and its wisdom of being the other woman either on the phone or cooking. In this case, is cooking an escape or a grounding in reality? Maybe both?
While I mince an onion, he talks with her,
planning their son’s bar mitzvah, sounding
so familiar, so nuts and bolts. Turning up the gas flame,
I sauté the onion translucent. Butter sizzles, foams,
as they go over the invitation list, names I’ve never heard.
Adding a cup of Arborio, I think of white rice
thrown high in the air by the fistful. I pour
two glasses of chardonnay, one for the risotto,
one for myself, sip, then gulp. Blend.
The band, flowers, menu?
Heady, I stare at the recipe to orient myself, to understand
what I am doing: Add broth, cup by cup, until absorbed.
Add Parmesan. Serve immediately.
The word immediately catches my eye,
but their conversation continues, then his son
gets on the line and hangs up on him,
as I stir and stir, holding the wooden spoon.
“Making Risotto for Dinner When His Ex-Wife Calls” by Kendra Tanacea from A Filament Burns in Blue Degrees. © Lost Horse Press, 2017.
From the Writer’s Almanac March 31, 2017