Friday, October 9, 2009

Secrets of the Hospital Food Tray

A miniature bowl of orange sauce (?)
topped with plastic, what a mystery
among the ordinary pepper stamp
the packet of salt and the squeezable
toy of mayonnaise. It is the color of a rose
in my garden, the orange one called Lucille Ball
Like neighbors in a campground, squeezed together
politely, green chunks of grapes and honeydew
sit next to a brown bowl of white clam chowder.
For some reason the chef has added
a pitiful white plate, a strip of green leaf and red
circle of dried and pale tomato, its tiny seeds
dull. The whole gray tray is dominated by a bowl
and lid, a huge plastic cranberry on a field of white
Within is the unspeakable, the relics of a saint perhaps,
thousand year old bones and parchment flesh
holding the spectacle together for the viewing
of the public. Never mind what's in there. No one
cares. A cup of coffee survives, the same cranberry red
as the entree, and beside it black plastic utensils
and two packets of sugar. Of all the tray
I remove only the coffee and tear open one sugar.
On it is printed, from
"Your heart knows what your mind
only thinks it knows." I know everything
I need to know about this supper,
and my heart tells me it will not be my last.


Steve E. said...

I shall never forget the last time I was in Naples Community Hospital...1968, for a few weeks. Sunday night was LOBSTER night! Of course it was plentiful here at that time.

They don't DO that any more!
Ah! Memories!

the walking man said...

And that tray and all of it's competing components is one of the many reasons I could never make any hospital ward a "comfort zone."

Escape when you're ready friend and gather strength to wellness.

Syd said...

I think that they try to make the food edible, but I've never liked it much. It must be the setting too. I'm sure that on a deserted island, I'd gobble everything up.