Long Life Noodles

~ after Ada Limon

Sometimes when we are eating
or putting more slices of bread

in the toaster or a pod into
the coffeemaker, I’ll feel some slow

loop inside me, as if that planetary
system under the skin knows I am almost

sixty. Maybe there are asteroids jostling
for space, or holes opening up where

there were none. I tell you I’ve had
this cough for more than a month now,

that it’s been going around; that a dull ache
resides somewhere in the vicinity of my left

shoulder, and another in the pocket under
my spine. Remember when we were children

and at birthdays, our mothers would make
a dish of noodles? They’d insist no strand

should be cut or broken: for long life, good
health— hungry mouths slurping up what the fork

or chopsticks coiled and lifted together, steaming
with all that luck. Living here now, we’ve come

to change many ways we do things. Instant ramen,
elbow macaroni stranded in cheese and thickened

cream. When I lift the boxes out of the pantry,
dry pasta rattles its reprimand of I-told-you-so.

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