Falls and Fine Dining

By: Donna James


Before departure
the lawn chair caved.
The tip of its backrest struck
under my nose. Teeth bit,
blood. I knew right then
I was in for trouble.

Next week, racing
against traffic in Munich,
I tripped on the curb.
Knee skinned, blood oozing.
A cyclist bent to help
a fragile woman.
A bruise the size of a palm
tattooed my thigh.

Days later, boarding
the Köln to Berlin, I lost
footing. Slowly my body slid
down the car
toward the platform.
Under the wheels
I glimpsed myself,
sliced in two
hundred pieces, dead
for lost balance.

Travel does not promise
a good time.

I land on my feet
back home from the falls
and scramble into a new skin,
this one much thicker
for feeling firsthand
how utterly naked—
how frail, how thin—
the body that we all
will fall in.




strip meat from bone
with knife and silver fork
arrange the lamb shank you have braised
in rosemary, garlic, and wine
on your grandmother’s china plate

Bon appétit!

putting away leftovers
catch yourself
trying to suck marrow from the bone
but it won’t come
so you turn that bone on end and blow
until marrow travels its hollow and then
you suck it out from the first end
wiping your lips on your wrist
and discover
tangled dirty hair
on your face the face
of a hominid
whose six-million-year-old DNA
descends into your marrow

and imagine how many times
this technique has been used