My Parents

The Biggest Piece of the Pot

One time

I broke your favorite pot

the kitchen was brightly lit
Steve Miller skipped on the record player
I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a

midnight and I was lying on Mom’s side of the bed
wondering how two people could fall in love again
after things break.

And then the university brought in a wrecking ball,
tore down Stroove Hall,
the dormitory where you met.

Mom was selling watermelons.
Dad had a broken toe
and a car with a flowered roof.

Vietnam murmured.
Tomatoes tossed in their sleep.
You and you were hardly we.

On Dad’s side of the bed
I felt indebted to that hall
those tomatoes
that year he lived in Iraq
the record player
that sunburned jet boat
those pinochle games at the lake.

How easily can things be broken?
Are they ever stronger afterward?

Mom and Dad crisscrossed tiles in the kitchen
discussing imperfection in a minor key.
I laid on Mom’s side of the bed
having snuck off with the biggest piece

of the clay pot.

I wanted to be the biggest piece
the one that kept them in that kitchen,
in that house on that shady road
just a mile from the wrecking ball.

Then the night flew in the kitchen window
and blew out the lights.
Tempers simmered with the Shabbat candles
still burning on the stove.
Steve Miller lowered his voice
the record player shut its eyes
the grapevines whispered against the pane.

I heard feet patting up the stairs
first one pair, then another.
You with your fortysomething ponytail
you with your swaying beaded earrings.

You were surprised to find me there
torn between Mom’s and Dad’s sides of the bed
holding the biggest piece of the pot.

"It’s prettier that way,” You said.
“It’s just a pot,” said You. “We can fix it.”

You, and You, and me, us three, laid there
becoming we.