I made a batch of tapioca.
I asked my daughter if Thea,
her daughter, my granddaughter,
three years old,
had ever had tapioca.
No, she said, she didn’t think so.
So, I put the tapioca
in a plastic container,
and the next day, when we went
to their house to pick up groceries—
this was during the great pandemic
of 2020, and our daughter
was doing shopping for us,
one of those logistical maneuvers
to minimize trips to the supermarket,
especially by older people
like us—so once a week
we go down to their place
twenty-five miles away
and do a curbside transfer,
keeping a properly distanced distance.
We wave in passing. I don’t know
what Thea makes of this,
such a quick visit, and our not
coming inside. The whole situation
is weird and unnatural, but
I picked up the two bags of groceries,
and set down a Mason jar
of vegetable soup
that my wife had made for them,
and also the tapioca.
The next day, when we had
our daily video call,
there was Thea
looking into the phone
with her three year old seriousness
from her seat on the stool,
and then when she saw us, a smile.
Also in front of her,
between her and the phone/camera,
put there by her mom.
It was snack time, and the snack today
was tapioca, the same
which I had made and left on the porch.
And as we were talking
she wielded her spoon
and had her first mouthful ever
I said, “Is it good?”
She got a thoughtful look,
considered, and said,
“Yes.” I asked her
if she liked those little lumps.
She thought again, and said,
“Yes,” and throughout
our fifteen minute conversation,
which included my wife reading to her
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, classic text,
wonderful colorful illustrations,
shown through the phone,
she spooned spoonful after spoonful
into her mouth, while also
and looking at the pictures.
We could see her, and she
could see the book, simultaneously.
And I knew this was a moment
I would never forget,
unless I get really forgetful.
And now I notice that tapioca
rhymes with happy.
Slant. Which I like. And I was.
First published in Corona, an anthology of poems from the pandemic year, edited by Gayl Teller.