What the Sous Chef Knows
is the eventual Braille
brought on by cut onions –
the stick of garlic on skin,
and how its husk leaves
the bulb like a sheath off her knife.
The combination to the meat locker,
and how much filet to clean on Wednesday
afternoons, that her line cooks are always right
no matter what the stiffshirts out front say. She knows
how starch in the air can taste like its giver, potato
releasing the earth, pasta, broccoli stems – asparagus
snaps. How to make the most of the thinnest
tuna loin. She knows how to sew her own thumb closed –
which dishwasher to let go, which to take home.
Timeless dreams of slicing. Cold, solo sheets.
The sun on set, cooled outside her
restaurant’s back door screen,
nothing about it rare, or done
well; how to crack an egg
in each hand and flick
those goddamn shells
into that steel sink
Runner-up in the Iowa Review Prize, Jesse Waters is
currently a visiting assistant professor at Elizabethtown
College. His fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in
such journals as 88: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry,
The Adirondack Review, The Cortland Review, Cimarron
Review, Plainsongs, Magma, Southeast Review and
Sycamore Review. Next June he’ll be writer-
in-residence for Partners of the Americas in the Bahia
region of Brazil.