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I made a batch of tapioca.

I asked my daughter if Thea,

her daughter, my granddaughter,

three years old,

had ever had tapioca.

No, she said, she didn’t think so.

So, I put the tapioca

in a plastic container,

and the next day, when we went

to their house to pick up groceries—

this was during the great pandemic

of 2020, and our daughter

was doing shopping for us,

one of those logistical maneuvers

to minimize trips to the supermarket,

especially by older people

like us—so once a week

we go down to their place

twenty-five miles away

and do a curbside transfer,

keeping a properly distanced distance.

We wave in passing. I don’t know

what Thea makes of this,

such a quick visit, and our not

coming inside. The whole situation

is weird and unnatural, but

I picked up the two bags of groceries,

and set down a Mason jar

of vegetable soup

that my wife had made for them,

and also the tapioca.

The next day, when we had

our daily video call,

there was Thea

looking into the phone

with her three year old seriousness

from her seat on the stool,

and then when she saw us, a smile.

Also in front of her,

between her and the phone/camera,

a bowl,

put there by her mom.

It was snack time, and the snack today

was tapioca, the same

which I had made and left on the porch.

And as we were talking

she wielded her spoon

and had her first mouthful ever

of tapioca.

I said, “Is it good?”

She got a thoughtful look,

considered, and said,

“Yes.” I asked her

if she liked those little lumps.

She thought again, and said,

“Yes,” and throughout

our fifteen minute conversation,

which included my wife reading to her

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, classic text,

wonderful colorful illustrations,

shown through the phone,

she spooned spoonful after spoonful

into her mouth, while also

listening attentively

and looking at the pictures.

We could see her, and she

could see the book, simultaneously.

And I knew this was a moment

I would never forget,

unless I get really forgetful.

And now I notice that tapioca

rhymes with happy.

Slant. Which I like. And I was.

First published in Corona, an anthology of poems from the pandemic year, edited by Gayl Teller.

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