Volume 31, Number 4

Forgotten Grace

I live in the greatest nation
for maximized efficiency
and success, largess
at my dinner table I don't
think about
food warehouses and housing
for workers ferried by bus
from trailers, jampacked spaces 
on the line, no soap, no masks
residents of nearby towns too
unpaid leave for illness, minimum 
wage, minimum everything
a wanton disregard
for anyone other than
shareholders, investors, the rich 
and me
stocking up pantry shelves
with emergency hoards
fridge overstuffed
ripe fruits and vegetables
fresh off American farms
picked by noncitizens
without the right to shade
rest, soap, sick leave, safety
and the pork loin, chicken legs
burger patties and maple bacon
in my coffin-size freezer
packed in overpacked 
meatpacking plants, massive 
centralized facilities manned
and womaned
by people without protection
time off unless testing positive
or under mandatory quarantine
thousands exposed 
to their own vulnerabilities
shoulder to shoulder in sickness
and poor health shuttled to work
from crowded down-at-the-heels
cheap motels the great spreading
between farms, counties, states
and countries, the entire globe

while I shop for more goods
pasta, rice, cans of supplies
shoveled into a rolling cart
emptying grocery aisles
stocked by frontline workers
on duty essential underpaid
Americans new and long-term
residents of this great nation
to our vulnerabilities, families
under threat when they return home
strip to wash clothes, wash hands
pray for another day of work
while in my safety bubble
I sit down 
to what I consider
a homemade meal I made

all by myself

great American 
food, food
for which I forget
to say grace.

—Mickey J. Corrigan