The lines get long but they move quickly, Em says
as we join the expectant tail
and tongues wagging from the door to the street.
“Bourbon Turtle” I say aloud,
not to anyone really,
but because Bourbon Turtle …
and it’s the greatest of all the commandments
on the tall black slate scroll near the front.
I’m nothing but another, the nameless next
come to lick from these holy vessels,
dropping all defenses and pretenses at this altar call.
“Salted Chocolate Truffle”
Stop saying everything out loud, Em pleads in vain,
trying to contain her teenage embarrassment,
falling sad as a scoop on hot pavement
just before the ants come.
But her words can’t bruise my unadulterated, un-adulted joy
as everything melts — in front, behind, at the picnic tables,
even the demon voices in my head, haunting.
Take a number, I say, and surrender.
I am nine and alive and summertime,
mesmerized by the lo-fi blare of Pop Goes the Weasel
waiting for the communion waffle cone from the Goody Man’s hand.
It, too, was a long line, and moved far too quickly.
I fold my hands together over my nose and mouth,
whisper so Em can’t hear, but God still can
“Browned Butter Cookie Dough”
ascend the steps, raise my hand, step into the light …
As the bell rings, my angel beckons
I reach for a sample of Bourbon Turtle
just to taste it on my tongue.
But in my heart I’ve always known my true calling.
“Peanut … Butter … Cone … Crackle”