Green tea and Spam musubi

for Dick Schmidt

Only in a Hawaiian hospital,
where he and I lodged for a fortnight,
could one find tight white rice slabs
topped with fried Spam drizzled
in teriyaki sauce, bound in a
crinkly green ribbon of seaweed.

And after another mostly sleepless
night—up every hour, it seemed,
helping him with the urinal,
the bloodletter, as he called her,
arriving for a middle-of-the-night
stab, announcements in the hall
piercing my fragmented dreams—

I’d rise from the folding chair-turned-
too-hard-bed, already dressed,
stumble downstairs to the cafeteria
(stairs for exercise every chance you get!)
and find my way to the warming
table where, under hot lights,
the musubi waited—

and nearby the hot water tap eager
for a crisp cup, my cold fingers
stopping on a packet of Japanese
green tea at the register.

And, taking my breakfast to a table by
the vast panes of glass that looked
mauka to the Moanalua Valley
that stretched, it seemed, to the island’s
center, I’d sit, pause, then bite into
into comfort that the heart patient
upstairs could not have, warming
my tongue, curling my palms around
the cup, the little teabag tag dangling
on the end of its slender string,

then look up and out into the new day,
beginning to be fed, starting to
feel full.

Jan and her Spam musubi, Moanalua Hospital, January 2019 / Photo: Dick Schmidt

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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