Labor Of Love

By Melody Miller

The last rays of sun are setting like a red blush into the clouds and warm June air caresses softly against our skin inviting us to laugh more deeply than when we first sat at this table of cornucopia. The grass under my toes is flushed from the afternoon’s heat. Hours and days have been spent in the kitchen. The steaming fragrance of mole has invaded my skin and hair. Roast venison has been basted with wine, and I have slipped garlic cloves into its flesh like the first gasp of touch from a forbidden lover’s fingertips. So tantalizing that—should you really be eating this? But, it’s not a question. My fingers are stained with plums, raspberries and pomegranate juice. Somewhere under the cabinet, several almonds are still hiding where they escaped from the green beans and endive.

I have been planning this for years, metamorphosing it in my mind; undulating rich colors and flavors. Everyone I love is invited. The pastry chef from my deli job is laughing, wine-drunk with my childhood friends. Each person who means something to me is seated at this long table. The plums are split in half before them, the venison with arroyos of mole. Fresh vegetables and fruit, raw and bright are loaded onto the tablecloth, no plate, just reach for it and enjoy. Oysters still in their shell; slippery with salt brine. Forest mushrooms crisped and dotted with balsamic vinegar thick as honey. And wine, bottle after bottle of dark-red, gentle wine. The sun is fading. I sit back and bite into a plum, watching the smiles glued to my guests’ faces and listen to their laughter swirl around the table. Hearts open, riding the current of great food and drink, imbibed with a smile that cannot disappear, not for tonight anyway. I breathe the June air. You know those summer evenings just as dusk is coming on and the crickets’ song is loud and the earth breathes out the heat of the day as the gold sky seeps its orange cloud wisps into the tree-lined horizon and you feel promise and possibility, like longing, so tangible that you could reach out and grab it like a firefly, enclosed in your hand, a green light blinking: I’m ready. But, you don’t because that feeling is everywhere and you are part of it. Tonight is one of those nights, but longing is an absent guest at the dinner table because we are all sated and food is only the catalyst for joy. I lean forward and catch a current of the laughter that has passed across each face. And heart full to the exploding, I turn to the friend next to me. Somewhere in the trees two robins are singing, call and response, twir, whir, twir, whir, tweet, tweet.

 

Melody Miller is a free-thinking southern transplant, with a love for all things creative, especially writing and anything to do with language. In her free time she can be found cooking up healthy meals, living a "green lifestyle" and scheming how to live the happiest life.