Saturday, August 29, 2009

a small good thing

every now and then i google the poet michael estabrook. i don't know how i discovered his work, perhaps it was from an edition of can we have our ball back the same edition i think i had a couple of poems in. there's a simplicity in estabrook's poems i find appealing. i don't mean his poetry is simple, i mean that his technique is very straight-forward and his subject matter often includes the life of a working man. the drudgery, the daily slog, the stress of having to drag yourself to the office each day and toil under the glare of fluorescent lights in front of computer screens for hours upon hours are what i like about estabrook's poems. and that there's still a spirit in the work that finds a buoyancy in a singular life that makes the reader, at least this reader, glad to be alive.

there are other things too. yesterday for lunch we finally made it to la bonne soup cafe. think of the '90s sitcom seinfeld, the one about the soup nazi and you might have an idea of la bonne soup. only that the chef and sole proprieter of the cafe is an older frenchman who is rather quiet and self-effacing, if at least from my limited perspective of the man and his shop. nestled between a liquor store and bailbonds office [the city jail is just 3 blocks away and this part of downtown is rife with bailbonds offices] the cafe is a rather bare counter with the chef and his soups. to call it tiny is no mean understatement. there are a few tables tucked here and there but those of us standing in line -- more than 6 persons make the cafe feel more crowded than a cross-country flight on us airlines -- are in danger of knocking the brioche off a diner's plate.

it had been a long week at the office. work piled on top of work. and more was piling up as we waited in line for the better part of our lunch hour. right off the bat i don't like soup. there were sandwiches to be had and the handwritten menu board posted a mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich that i decided to have. watching the chef work was amazing. slow, methodical, cutting brie with a hatchet, slicing romaine lettuce with a paring knife, watching the bread toast in the oven was killing me.

finally we got our sandwiches and had just enough time to run back to the office. now, i wouldn't say i'm a connoisseur of sandwiches but i've had my fair share of them in my 42 years of life on this planet. i know good ones from not so good ones. i'm not a picky eater at all. with all that i'd yet to have a sandwich that knocked me on my ass from pure goodness. this sandwich, my friends, was such a sandwich. it was perfect. it was one of those small good things that made me glad to be alive.


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