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The Mission

Honorable Mention – 2018 Poetry Contest

She chops onions dumps them
in black beans garnished
with overcooked pork
adds cumin and rosemary
leftover out-of-date
serendipity for the poor
lined neatly on the other side
the first wears ski pants in summer
smiles at her then bends to share
his dream of a perfect raspberry
tart with the wispy haired
man hunched over a shaky cane

She heaps pork medley
creamed corn on stainless steel
tired migrant workers speak
little English but hunger
is universal
wrinkled cheeks dry cracked lips
this three-week-old child wrapped in a balloon-
covered blanket needs milk

She imagines the child lifted away
from the tattooed man
leading the woman dressed in purple
black and blue
past enemies at opposite tables
Joe mumbles to his food
gripping salt
Jake stares out the dusty window as if
watching some movie
for this
is neutral territory

She stirs sauce up from the bottom
refills bins with mixed breads
eyeing the end
of the line she stuffs turkey
loaf cubes chunks of pork
in her pockets

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Contributors

Elisabeth Harrahy is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater. Her poems have appeared in Slightly West and Praxis: Journal of Gender and Cultural Critiques.

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