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The Chef

"She could walk these stale streets with her eyes closed."

Published onMar 06, 2024
The Chef

Photo by Klaus Nielsen:

(Lecce, Southern Italy)

 A soft feather drifts to the sidewalk where a woman rests her heavy frame on the low concrete steps that lead to her small restaurant, the one her mother passed on to her. She is on a break from the daily prep, dressed in cotton trousers cut at her thick calf and tee shirt. Her faded apron carries the stains of olive oil, tomatoes, red wine. She knows them like the neighborhood. She could walk these stale streets with her eyes closed. The feather lands at her feet, she looks up and takes a long drag on her cigarette. Pigeons, dull witless creatures. She will open her door at 5:00, and the place will gradually fill with locals, some with kids, a few with dogs. Patrons will step out onto the sidewalk for a smoke between courses. The pace will be leisurely, the children content, no one with a schedule. She will move from table to table, sit with the regulars. She serves a complimentary digestivo at the end of each meal – an old family recipe – and diners will carry them into the street to enjoy with their smoke. She will close the door at 1:00 or 2:00 depending on the night. Her crew will clear the tables and swab the floor, and she will sleep upstairs for a few hours before repeating the routine. Each morning at break she sits on the step and watches the pigeons. Today they strut along a ledge one story up, two grey in the lead, a white following. They drop to a lower ledge one after the other, their red-pronged feet moving in lock step. At the corner where the street meets the crossroad they pause, then fly free. She waves her cigarette in the air, bastardos, stubs it beneath her heel.

Lynda Wilde is a Canadian writer/photographer living between the cities of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico. Her poetry has been published  in Willawa Journal, El Portal (UE New Mex), SAR (San Antonio Review), DASH (USCF),  Filling Station, Freefall,  and her prose in Guernica Edition’s 2022 Anthology of Canadian Flash Fiction Writers, ‘This Will Only Take a Minute.” 

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