The blades
The teeth
The smiles
The rituals
And rules of conduct
Elbows, mouths, and words

The father
The mother
The oldest boy
The youngest

A plain meal
An abstract of a full meal
Meat, cooked
Green vegetable, generic
Seltzer or milk.
Hands, when not in use,
Neatly folded
Into impatient quietude.

Bowls as old as we were
Enameled metal, melamine,
The post-war cheaper goods,
Electric appliances,
The newest they could afford,

The old ones packed in the attic
With encyclopedias’ once modern knowledge
In cardboard boxes taped shut,
Quiet as dust.

In our compressed apartment
Five rooms, four people,
One brocaded sofa
Two club chairs
Beds, kitchen, and bathroom,
Three TV sets,
Father’s old desk.

Behind the bare thickness
Of brick and paper walls,
We told jokes
Watched our black and white shows
Where the laughers paid to laugh loud
Laughed in a wooden box with a glass window.

We were the Children
At the dinner table
Pushing monoliths
Of boiled cabbage
Around a white plate,
Hunger pretending to be satisfied.

Steven R. Weiner is a father and husband, recently retired as a nurse practitioner and hospital administrator, and a writer as well. He is published in Glassworks, the American Journal of Poetry, Café Review, Kerem, Bridges, and elsewhere. His first chapbook, The Tree of Partial Knowledge, is being published by Finishing Line Press.