Lunchtime by Rachel Riddell
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Lunchtime by Rachel Riddell

Lunchtime by Rachel Riddell


my nonna was the last to eat in her family,

scooping bowls of pastina soup

for her husband and children,

hovering over the table in case

there were pleads for more

parmesan or pepper,

serving seconds before she got her first;

a comforting lunch turned lukewarm

by the time she sits in the kitchen



while spooning mouthfuls down her throat

sunlight pours on to the table,

illuminating details of the soup:

rice-shaped pasta,

peas, cheese, and carrots,

immersed in a chicken broth

birthed from the bones of

last night’s dinner—

she imagines the bowl is as hot

as when the soup was first served,

mentally trying to replicate

the flavour and heat that

her husband and children experienced.


sunlight pours on to the table,

and she is reminded,

despite the cold broth,

that it is a blistering July—

her children run through a sprinkler

while her husband watches them

from a lawn chair,

and she watches him,

smoking a cigarette in the garden.


my nonna gathers all the dishes,

empty except for the

peas and carrots left by her son

—who is more keen on the cheese—

and places them in the sink.


before running the tap,

she looks out the window,

her husband now spraying

the children with a hose,

their laughter roaring into the kitchen

with smiles as wide as their faces.


her daughter wears a

white linen dress that

my nonna sewed in the spring,

wet and clinging to her body

while she runs through

the sprinkler yet again.


her daughter’s hair,

blonde and damp,

reminds my nonna of her husband years ago,

laying on a towel in Italy

days before they left for Canada,

enjoying the last of Lake Como

before Lake Ontario;

enjoying the last of their youth

before the youth of their children.


her daughter’s hair,

long and thick

compared to summers before,

dries underneath her husband’s towel,

and my nonna expects

there aren’t many summers left that

her daughter will remind her

of her husband but

will soon become like her:

trading water and sunshine for

water and soap.