Chicken Broth
by Steve Bertolino

—for Garrison Keillor

The chicken broth I bought has specific
instructions. Do not dilute, it says.
Do not use in the microwave.
Warm in a saucepan over medium heat.
Refrigerate after opening, and use
within 14 days. How odd to think
about applying these sensible rules
to the rest of life, and yet I do.

Would my son benefit if everything
I said to him were undiluted?
What if I happen to like TV dinners
warmed in the microwave and eaten
as advertised, in front of the TV?
And I don’t think anything my wife does
as she goes about her busy days
could be done on only a medium heat.

Time passes but chicken broth soldiers on,
unspoiled when you open the can.
Taste your first taste of what it can be
to sit in the kitchen late at night,
the window open and the autumn breeze
just cold enough to want a cup of soup
as you listen to the baseball game
on the radio. How many instructions
do we need to live our lives this way?

The night is calm and steady, peaceful
except when I begin to wonder
what will my mother think,
when she learns I’ve bought
chicken soup in a box?

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