Lunch with Two

by Katherine S. Li
Art by Katherine S. Li
Issue: Kalopsia (Spring 2017)

My face was wiped off fresh and clean,
my bicep firm for lifting,
your smile mirrored in my Barbie’s grin,
new sparkles strung on seams.
My stomach unzipped,
a warm, heavy load placed
within my Insulate walls.
“Your lunch is ready!” Mama said,
“Good luck—stand nice and tall.”
Your thin fingers gently held my hand—
Just like that, off we go
bounce, bounce, bouncing down the pavement.
As we approached the imposing gates
you stopped a little, in awe—
then slowly led me in.

When we rejoined three bells later,
your grasp tightened around my neck
your palms gave me a shower
as your cold sweat trickled down my chest.
Pounding around the playground we went,
your uncertainty complicating our route.
On our right they were playing hopscotch
I watched you mumble something—
Your eyes became wet.
We left.

I watched you try again
and again
and again.
But Pride could only take so many blows
before Hurt started putting on her show.
Your eyes now aligned with your toes.
Your grasp was so tight my lung-size sunk
to an all-time low.

We sat down
on a deserted bench.

Your numb fingers inched their way around my belly,
gently pulling me open.
I thrusted all the warmth I had
into that Thermos Mama lovingly filled in.
Exhausted and limp,
I searched your features.
They brightened:
sitting on your lap I could feel you become warmer.
The edges of your mouth upturned
as the wafts of soup soothed your burn.

Silently, side-by-side we sat,
watching the commotion:
the attempts at “cool,”
the bullets at the “lame,”
the Shame,
the Hurt,
all over petty games.
They are just games.

A game is better when you sit on the sidelines.
Lunch is better when you silently sip soup.
Warm, mild, loving chicken soup—
soup that was inside me,
that is now inside you.
Nothing matters anymore,
because the only One who really loves you
is the One you’re sitting next to.

(I am always inside you.)

Lunch is better with two.