I'm making duck soup, as the year
falls toward the dark. We shall eat it
as we watch the light come up in
the morning. We are contemplating
the confinement of song birds. Can
canaries and Java sparrows live kindly
together in the same cage? Green
onions, root ginger, winter melon. He
looked so calm, so not beaten down,
in his Chicago Overcoat, there in the
Fleet Street Family Mortuary. I had known
he was a lunger, but not so near. . . He
told me he was behind the eight ball.
Chicken stock. Arrow root. All those
orphan papers posted on the board.
Who will bother with them now? He had
to have the bees. Five hives in the middle
of town. Peel and chop the ginger. Slice
the winter melon. He had the oddest quirks
with words, especially words for women: long,
long getaway sticks; great nippers; man, she
snaps my cap, but I can't carry the vigorish.
They're ringers, all of them, he'd say, wanting
to ring my bell; wanting my mazuma. He loved
duck soup, loved the way the duck came last,
after the chopping and peeling; after the salt,
the monosodium glutamate; after the shao hsing
wine or dry sherry. The clearness of it. The hot
and soft, the sweet and salt and dryness of it.
The rich and stringy empty body of the duck.