Afro-Seattleite Fragment #3: Silver Fork (An Elegy)

by Malcolm Friend




It’s 1995, maybe ’96.

Truth is you’ll be here so often before you reach twenty-one

that Silver Fork will be associated

with the beginning of time.


When you’re six, you’ll come here

after your younger sister busts the top

of your first adult tooth, an incisor.


When you’re nineteen you’ll bring your best friend

from high school here, sink your teeth into a Soul Burger.


But for now you’re three, maybe four.

Diana Ross is asking where her love went

and Dad’s ordered you a short stack,

more food than you’ll actually eat

(he’ll eat the rest;

he wouldn’t pay for food not to be eaten).


You order the hot chocolate yourself.

A Mt. Rainier portion of whipped cream

looms over the cup’s horizon,

and you’ll spend more time forcing spoonful

after spoonful of it into your mouth

than eating what little portion of your pancakes

you don’t fork over to Dad.




It’s 2010. You’ve just graduated from high school.

You don’t drink hot chocolate anymore

and your short stack has evolved into a full stack

of pancakes with sides of bacon, oatmeal,

and the creamiest grits this close to the Pacific.


Four generations of your blood have gathered here:

Marte, Mom and Dad,

Marques, Veronica, Nini (with Will),

and Junior.


Your nephew is two, just a couple years younger

than you were the first time you stepped in here.

This time it’s David Ruffin insisting he ain’t too proud to beg

but the story is the same:


he smiles, he laughs, he eats some (but not all)

of his pancakes, and for a moment

the resemblance between you two is more

than the space your noses occupy,

more than your cocoa eyes,

or the way your smiles reveal keen-edged canines.


In barely three years Silver Fork will close,

the land used instead for a Safeway gas station.

Your nephew is the last of your lineage

to ever be serenaded by Motown legends

as he eats breakfast,


and you wonder:

if he knew would he commit the moment to memory

or would he sit there, smile sitting on top of his face,

just like you did years ago when they brought that hot chocolate,

whipped cream bursting over the edge of the cup?