Ann Keiffer

Mushroom Bourguignon

While I made the Mushroom Bourguignon…
while I sliced the Portobello mushrooms,
sautéed them with onions and garlic…
while I added carrots and tomatoes…
while I poured in broth and good red wine…
while I savored that feeling of well-being
I get from having something special
simmering on the stove for dinner,
warming the house with savory scent…
while I sat with my husband later,
at dinner, enjoying
our Mushroom Bourguignon
at our beautiful everyday table
with napkins and placemats
and candles glowing…
all that time, not even once—
until the mass shooting hit the headlines
and unloaded all those images
of reality on my consciousness—
not until then
did I find in my awareness
the chapped hands,
cracked, cold and aching
from the frigid sea air rushing in
off the California coast
in Half Moon Bay,
not once, while we enjoyed our dinner
did I have in my awareness
the lives of mushroom farmworkers
layered up in cast-off clothing,
stocking caps pulled down on their heads,
immigrants from Mexico,
South America, Asia
who ended up here because
how else could they live?,
thrown together without
even a shared language
to offer a greeting
or make community
or address the troubles
in the mushroom barns—
sharing no common language
but the language of deprivation,
silent hours of labor in the
humid darkness of the barns,
nights hunkered down in shacks
with blue-tarp covered roofs,
frigid ocean air streaming in
on a stark room with rough fireplace
and propane burner for cooking,
bare mattress on a splintered floor,
no place to store anything
because there is nothing to store,
not a thing of comfort anywhere in sight.
Someone’s hard life and labor
bring me my comfort food every night.
May I say grace with my eyes open.

Ann Keiffer
February, 2023

Headline from The Mercury News 2/6/23: “Half Moon Bay mass shooting illuminates ‘deplorable’ conditions for farmworkers”

Image: Digital collage by Ann Keiffer, photos from The Mercury News and Pinterest


About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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