The cliché makes more sense to me now.
I am a sandwich my mother made
when I was eight,
a confusing soup of bread and
peanut butter, and orange marmalade,
(as if that ever counted as jelly.)
From that moment on,
every bit of carbon in that sandwich,
save the bit that stuck to the Zip-Lock,
and the corner I never bothered with,
was in me.
With every breath in two decades since,
I've lost a bit of that bread, a molecule or two
of the orange rind that so perplexed me
at the time.
There's more, I guess, left of the
pasta and sauce
I made for Kate that night
after our day off at the beach.
It had too much pepper for her,
so I ate the lion's share.
But not all, and I wonder now
if she regrets the meals like this,
the bits of herself that I
cooked up and served her.
Maybe she's taken up running,
or some other exercise, to keep
her metabolism high, her breathing deep,
to recycle it out of her
just a little faster.
She can run if she wants,
but she can no more
purge that peppery sauce from her
than I can keep it safe in me.
It will leave as it pleases,
floating off into the Oregon springtime,
or, more visibly,
into the cold crisp air of
Manhattan in January.
Time will take the bulk of it,
ripping it atom by atom away,
and no amount of running,
nor of sitting perfectly still
will change that.
All I can keep is a tiny fragment,
the mass of a shadow,
on a shelf next to a sandwich
I never really liked.
Ian Rose is a biologist and database engineer living in
western Oregon. His work has previously appeared in the journal
Marine Ecology Progress Series, but in literary circles, he is
unpublished. That, like many of his little jokes, sounded better
in his head, where he assures you it was both witty and