Lunch One Day

Partly we eat food, and partly impressions.

lunch one day
that Bombay Mahal place
in the chaotic district
some tandoori for sure
they bejewel it correctly
with cold lemons, raw onion, carrot pieces
and something not exactly parsley
and we shared a veggie thali
brown yellow lentils in one metal hollow
spinach-kale pond concealing paneer cubes
an eggplant okra crunchy side
vials of swampy green death by heat sauce
some naan to fight the spice conflagration
a battle we would lose

at first, what could possibly go sideways
the tastes fuse a surrounding aroma cloud,
enrobe us in a bubble of the sensory
the pleasing British English
of the young olive waitress
not quite pierces
but caresses the exterior of our dome

I offer that gulping the cold water
in between
maybe just builds an expressway
speeding the spice all inside us
towards our defenseless bellies
and bless, he chews this serious
an instant or two
accompanying a bite of red chicken
off the legbone
(the Red Chicken restaurant he calls it
please lets go again daddy)

Nah – he concludes
and jokingly points to nowhere — Look!
to try and secret a drop of green sauce
into my otherwise calming white lassi
I catch him in time
but he wouldn’t really anyway
would he?
harder to tell these days
so beautiful that smile coats his mischief

halfway through things are slowing
time gets denser with every swallow
in one corner a solo guy
sits satiated and pointedly thinking
his metabolic process unfolding
overwhelms his expressed being
revealing his distraction
with some pressing quotidian concern
amidst a background debate
only half conscious
whether to take the edge off
the afternoon
with some soothing ras malai

and visible down a corridor
a couple sits done talking
mired in temporary isolation
wondering against hope and caution
would this be a first date of many?
so many sentiments
rise steamy throughout the chamber
climbing lighter and supported
above a billowy base of digestion

driving home he is happy
though a little bit reflective
in the city he tells me
the air smells okay
but not as nice as the mountains
and also — it smells like a million restaurants everywhere
then he jokes about Indian food burps, or farts

I am thinking in my intestines now
a different era and different biology
that first time Greenwich Village
pomegranate juice on the beverage list
sealed my life infatuation
was I right then or now
which me more courted wisdom
it feels I shouldn’t partake anymore
too much consciousness down low
too much fire in the organs
how right a simple cucumber slice
tastes now with sprinkle of vinegar
but certainly I’d go for him
just to watch him become saliva


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