French Toast After Noon


The best luck of all is not
to survive.  The best luck is not
to be left behind. In other words,
to be haunted.  I don’t know what
I’m talking about – assuming
what the dead want when the dead
don’t matter.  I should stop.  Leave
this argument alone or to
the theologians.  The theologians
want solitude and there I go
again.  Assuming.  To be left
behind is a death of sorts.  But
to be haunted is to be dreamt
of in reverse.  A reclamation.
Of sorts.  What I’m talking about
is mourning damnable luck.
The need to be claimed.  A nod
in this direction.  The dead,
they let that go.  The dead, they
are too disillusioned to
bother.  They climb mountains
to get to the other side.  This is
how we descend, they say, not
caring if anyone watches.  I’ll
tell you a story.  Louis’,
a diner wedged cliffside above
the Sutro Baths, the ocean
frolicking below, hoarse from
shouting Look at me!  Look at
me!  Suzy, near eighty, plastic
violets in her hair held by
plastic barrettes.  There's a game
we play hung over, attempt to
order French toast as the sun sets.
The gamble – Suzy takes
the order, her gaze indulgent
and impatient, or she huffs,
points to the sign above
the counter: “NO French Toast
After Noon.”  That Suzy, we
laugh and poke each other
whether our luck is good or
bad.  The best, when she points
and brings it anyway.  It
mattered.  Ten years ago.  Suzy
died.  Does she care I’m writing
this?  She doesn’t care.

Michele Battiste is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Uprising (2014) and Ink for an Odd Cartography(2009), both published by Black Lawrence Press. She was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and is the author of five chapbooks, including Left: Letters to Strangers (Grey Book Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Rumpus, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and Mid-American Review, among others. She lives in Colorado where she raises funds for environmental conservation.

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