In this wealthy little burg, young mothers with perfect figures push their babies in luxury SUV strollers (google the prices––you’ll be amazed) and their husbands drive Teslas. We have no grandbabies nor even pets to stroll, and we drive a Prius.
Dogs abound. Couples walk their pampered pooches to the Coffee Roasting Company, where young and old alike stop to admire and converse with well-groomed pets. Everyone seems to love their dog and everyone else’s too. I’m not a dog person, and I resent the owners who don’t clean up after their pets, but the love for dogs is, I guess, a common bond for young and old, rich and regular, and contributes toward a congenial mix of ages and incomes in this community.
Young marrieds, rich from stock options, or from something, pay in the neighborhood of $2M for a three-bedroom, two-bath house that’s a fixer-upper. It’s insane. All I know for sure is, that we could not afford to live here if we had not bought our home forty years ago. We’re thankful to be old.
Some among us patronize our town’s three-star restaurant. The website Eater San Francisco, says, “Three stars, in Michelin parlance, means ‘exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.'” Los Gatos’ Manresa is one of only six in the San Francisco Bay area. The food is superb, the presentation everything. Quite an accomplishment, really.
But we have too many other choice restaurants in town for me to pay hundreds of dollars per person just to eat––local tip: for one-tenth the price, go to Bywater, owned by the Manresa chef and featuring good, down-home food, if home is New Orleans––and so I have never eaten at Manresa. Besides, I could never enjoy the food as much as I enjoy this delectable poem by Erica Goss, former poet laureate of Los Gatos.
I’ve loved this poem ever since I heard Erica read it to a gathering at the library. About the poem, she says, “It has been published three times: the first time at Annapurna Literary Journal, second in Song of Los Gatos, and third in Joys of the Table, an Anthology of Culinary Verse. I wrote it as a tongue-in-cheek, slightly satiric take on the menu at Manresa, where I have eaten exactly four times. The poem came to me during a layover in the Chicago airport. I rummaged through my purse for something to read, and found a folded-up menu from Manresa. That’s how the poem got started.”
Read and enjoy:*
Dinner at Manresa
Our table awaited us, lit with droplets of phosphorescent seawater,
each napkin wrapped, tucked and tied with stems of Neolithic rye.
We began with a salad of sea vegetables harvested by unmarried mermen
and wedges of cheese from cows fed white flowers in moonlight.
A few hours later our waiter brought the voice of the west wind
caught in hinged bamboo boxes, then a bonsai forest sculpted from
iced asparagus, arranged in terrariums, and drizzled with dewberry sauce,
followed by dark brown breasts of Muscovy duck trimmed in silver feathers
and dappled with salted foam – our knives touched – too much?
My fork tapped the slope of a miniature mountain amended
with live mushrooms, nestled on a plate of scented grasses,
undulating in the warm breeze. For dessert, the view from 30,000 feet
rendered in clouds of meringue, and a small box to open later which
we held in our interlaced fingers like the promise we made all those years ago.
*Printed with permission from the author.
Erica Goss served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, California from 2013-2016. Her latest poetry collection, Night Court, won the 2016 Lyrebird Prize from Glass Lyre Press. She is the author of Wild Place (2012, Finishing Line Press) and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets (2014, Pushpen Press). To learn more, visit her website http://ericagoss.com