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Read the Label, She Said
by Sherman Pearl

don't buy what you can't pronounce.
So I scan the nutritional facts, starting with
basics depicted on the box, grains
swaying to the rhythms of wholesome winds.

We'll breakfast on goodness like a farm-
fresh family that harvests its own happiness.
We'll pour raw milk from the pitcher,
slice in apples from our withering backyard tree.

Read on, she whispers across the morning.
I squint at the tiny-type list of chemicals
that baffle the tongue but preserve
the shelf-life, every breakfast a fresh start.

I scan the sweeteners. Artificial or otherwise
they contribute the taste of days
when the world was delicious, non-fattening,
served in bowls with floral decorations.

The back of the box tells the story of cereals,
how they founded civilizations
and conquered the meat-hunting world.
Some, with magical additives, even defeated

the demons of age and impotence.
I can't pronounce the ingredients of this life
but the box alone seems worth the price.
A bargain, she says.


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