Comfort Food
“Boiled dinner” was what we called
kielbasa, potatoes and cabbage, and black
pepper poured from a hard plastic mill.
We had no tarragon, no coriander.
Not even mustard seed.

For some it’s beans and rice,
or mac and cheese (hot yellow-orange
from a dark blue box), or
noodle casserole.  Even pasta
made from scratch can’t gussy up
Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.

Tonight there’s frost
on the windowpanes.  The aged Panasonic
in the corner plays Thai reality TV
with the volume turned low
while a pregnant girl, smiling, spoons noodles
into a Styrofoam bowl.
PATRICK BAHLS is Associate Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Honors Program at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. His interests center on rhetoric and composition in quantitative fields, as reflected in his recent text Student Writing in the Quantitative Disciplines: A Guide for College Faculty (Jossey-Bass, 2012).