Eating Wiener Schnitzel

He wants Wiener Schnitzel and egg rolls –
a complicated request, yet she will try
to acquiesce, selects a restaurant where
the former is a speciality, hopes he’ll forgive
absence of latter – it’s busy here
and she’d rather be home,
or somewhere quieter
(though she’d never say so)
feels her insecurities sliding into the seat
beside her, drama welling up in her throat,
tries to push it down but resentment
takes a seat at the table and brings along disgust –
why is she eating in a place she would never
choose for herself, with a man who does not
notice, let alone appreciate?

Restaurants take her back to another life,
when the heat of the kitchen consumed her,
yelled orders, was yelled at,
rushed about to cater to the whims
of guests that may or may not tip –
A real education, her father told her,
but she came away with sore feet,
a broken back and none the wiser
about relationships –
has dined here before with former lovers,
friends, felt the stuffiness of the ochre walls,
brocade upholstery, close in on her,
wondered why she came,
doesn’t even like milk-fed calf.

Her mind wanders to other walls,
now crumbled, remnants of dreams,
boundaries she’d once built when she was
just a pup – believed her good-natured loyalty
would win over many hearts, instead
it only shattered her own –
so many incarnations she is ashamed
to think of it: enthusiastic house mate,
trophy mutt, Heinz 57 – now she feels like
an over-aged, overstuffed mongrel,
beaten down by years of neglect.

It’s a rocky path she travels, these days,
has lost the concept of solid ground,
finds herself teetering on the brink
of flight but has no legs to carry her,
no wings to lift her up, resigns herself
to meals of processed foods and
deep-fried suicide rather than
the curries and stews she craves,
convinced that compromise and
making others happy matters more
than what she wants or needs –
takes a bite of baby cow and smiles.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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