A to-go box from Irene’s 
Leftover meatloaf 
A bite of mashed potatoes 
Three discs of soggy yellow squash. 
The squash that should have been left 
On the plate 
At the restaurant 
To congeal with the butter 
And then be tossed away 
With the other food waste,
A vegetable, unappetizing when fresh 
Even more inedible in attempted revision. 

If it doesn’t get eaten today,
It will be a waste. 

Food waste, leftovers, 
The bane and the boon 
Of a single person household. 
A waste of precious resources 
$18 plus tax & tip 
On only one meal.

 It could simply be a sandwich, 
An inelegant but simple transformation. 
Two pieces of bread, 
And a thick slice of leftover meatloaf. 
It could be, 
If the loaf of bread, 
Weren’t growing a healthy green beard, 
Turning into a kitchen gnome 
Perched atop the refrigerator. 

It could be a Salisbury steak, 
Covered in a quick, sweet gravy, 
But that would be better with mushrooms 
There are none in the house 
Who can keep mushrooms
Past the time it takes to make a recipe? 

If I had planned better
It could have become shepherds pie 
A particular favorite meal, 
But again, there’s no time, 
And the dishes created would teeter off balance, 
In a growing stack, 
Becoming musty, 
In the sink 
For days. 

It ends up on a plate 
As it is 
Unsatisfactory for having 
Been eaten in the same way 
Two days ago at lunch
 At the restaurant 
With friends 
And a lively discussion. 

Here, it is lonely 
It is bland 
It is simply leftovers. 
Not transformed into something new 
And interesting 
Not seasoned by a knowing glance, 
A perked up ear, 
A shared laugh, 
No longer savored in the context of a larger occasion. 

A meager meal 
Eaten while standing at the counter 
A used fork, from the sink 
Rinsed off, and used again. 
Hands reaching for a dish towel 
Rather than pulling out a napkin. 
No napkins for this meal,
Sustenance only 
Shoving it in to feel full, 
But not fulfilled.
Quickly consumed and forgotten. 

Next time I will plan better, 
Next time I will know what to make 
With the leftovers from a meal, 
And with the time,
With the time, 
With the time, 

And the transformation will be 

Next time. 
The time that’s leftover.

--Kristin C., Adult