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),
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?