Meryl Natchez

Loaves and Fishes

This weekend, while I poach the perfect pears
in wine and sugar and ginger, 
while I bake paté brisée, whip
crème anglaise with its spice-imbued milk,
carefully slice crescents
of cooled, softened pear, and layer them 
in geometric circles,
armies of hungry children roam the streets 
for trash to eat
somewhere far from here.
I know they’re out there.
My whole generation had to finish 
what was on our plates
because children were starving
in India, as if we had to eat
for everyone. 

If I could, I would take
this perfect tart and transform it 
into loaves and fishes. I don’t pretend 
to understand why it’s fallen to me,
this cornucopia of succulent fruit,
of scapes and green garlic, tender baby 
lettuces spread on folding tables 
at outdoor markets four days a week,
while others probe gutters for crusts.
I think if I were out there, scrabbling 
for enough to eat, I would be cunning
and merciless. I would be one
who survives.