Vassar Student Review

Vassar Student Review

Bernstein’s breakfast on the Hudson line

By Sam Panken

I asked for the rainbow
chocolate-coated like City Bakery,
on seventy something-th in the 80s.
Hot cocoa, young love, the case
this morning was croissant beige
for you, I asked anyway.

Today at Zaro’s
in your Grand Central Terminal—
where I am again because it’s
station to the snake path
to my mother and the break
in her sternum where she taught me to sleep,
before the bone and murmur
had these cracks from bargaining
with a seatbelt’s grip—

A large iced coffee…
no—medium, please,
and do you have my rainbow cookies
(the name their lovers gave them;
marzipan, the name they call themselves)
trays of sprinkles, M&Ms to skip

until I remember
that black & white dawn
on my spilled coffee lips
on the way up the river
on the way from your town

spoil your dinner,
your lunch, and yourself.

Listen to Kaddish and feast on the cake
of a familiar cookie, your
morning breath gone sticky
with rotten teeth and icing sugar.

You can’t say words you didn’t choose
with your lips sealed shut in loving memoriam.

(The glue: the sweetness of denial.)
The softest circle grows
more jagged by the bite.

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