Napo 27

Review of 2020

Ramen noodles in a plastic cup.
Mac and cheese from a box
In a ceramic bowl. Tuna from a can.
This is what the year served us,
Set for us on our tables with a smile
And told us to dig in. It’s the cuisine
Of hard times, of survival, of uncertainty.

Located on the corner of life and death,
Of boom and bust, of breath and breathlessness,
2020 is a self-proclaimed hole-in-the-wall.
Its ambiance is doom and hope at once.
Its windows open to sunlight;
Its curtains wear a veil of dust.
All its tables are set for one and one alone.
It’s the kind of environment one expects
For the story of our lives to unfold,
Where survival is served on a chipped plate
And tastes like heaven, or hell, or music.

That year, I ate boxed mac and cheese
And cried because it tasted like the past,
Like better days, like my father at the stove
Adding weenies to the dish and shakes of pepper.
That year, I ate the perfect loaf of bread
From my own oven, misshapen, hard,
But it tasted like life, like sweat, like salt
From my own two hands.

The days, no longer served on silver platters,
Looked like art
Tossed into a blender.
The Chef stands in the kitchen
Slinging dish after dish after dish
That blur the days together
And make you cry some days
And laugh with joy others
At the sheer pleasure of being alive,
Of drawing breath here in this curious space.

This year isn’t for everyone—
Some will hate it.
But there’s a placemat set for you
And me and everyone to dine
At the table of this year alone.
But everyone must have a taste,
You see. Everyone must know
The flavor of survival, how to recognize it
In the soups we’ll all be eating
For years and years to come.
I give it 5 stars.