Family Dinner


I remember weeknights in mid-November,
The fall routine was well in gear.
The station wagon brought us home, through early evening darkness
From choir practice, Girl Scouts, visits with friends

In the small dining room,
Which used to be a bedroom until we changed the house around,
We gathered for meat loaf and baked potatoes.
The light glowed reliably, and everyone was home.

It was dark outside, beyond the windows
The dinner conversation taught us frightening words:
“Assassination.”  “Fallout.”   “Discrimination.”
How did we feel so safe, inside that glow?

Now I am the one behind the wheel
Driving the mini-van out into the dark.
My children wait for me to gather them.
I know their first question will be:  What’s for dinner?

Traffic is slow. I’m late for this pickup.
I have no dinner menu planned.
I turn off the radio news, with its terror,
Search in my mind:  What is there to serve?

What recipe, what artistry
Can shape out of food and a drive through the darkness
Something their words will remember:
Dinner.  Family.  Home.

from Waving Back