Day after day he ordered it
hot, cold, leftover, between Wonder Bread—
meatloaf Monday meatloaf Tuesday meatloaf Wednesday
Thursday Friday Saturday and holy day,
no rest. The cooks nearly went mad and quit.
“He thinks he’s the King,” they shouted, spit,
rolled their eyes, patted the loaf into 42 more pans.
All he wanted was to memorize the taste,
take it with him safe, after death.
He saw his. Lurid. Alone.
Leftover. He just wanted to eat
and eat until his gullet could rattle off every spice,
until the nights faded like a bitter aftertaste,
until the alchemy of ketchup and ground beef
redeemed the part of him furthest from home.

Copyright 2006,  Arlene Kim

Arlene Kim received a literature degree from Brown University, which qualified her to pull espresso and sell pastries. A traitor to bakery life, she ended up a Web site editor and writer. Her next move? The University of Minnesota’s MFA program. For now, Arlene lives in Seattle by the zoo, where peacocks serenade her at night and monkeys wake her in the morning.


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