A friend who learned it from a friend
showed me the recipe. It’s pasta—no sauce,
penne or fusilli or bowtie—boiled,
strained, and placed in a bowl steaming.
Plain as a lady’s face out of the shower,
it gets nothing. A drizzle of olive oil, sea salt,
and a careful shake of crushed red pepper.
(A guy I knew likened crushed
red pepper to fish food—I still dislike him.) This dish I learned
of in 2011 from a friend I lived with who ate it
along with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Her shopping list must have been simple,
low-cost. I explained the recipe to others.
Some admired it. Someone said add steamed broccoli.
More compliments. I toted it with me
through the end of my twenties,
feasted on it housesitting—borrowed olive oil,
my own noodles.
The main rule: it has to be hot.
If it’s so hot some red pepper rubs off
and stains the pasta, that’s great.
It should be a little overdone, soft.
A part of my life unthreatened, seductive;
takes it in stride when I want
something else for dinner.
Brooke Harries (she/her) is from California. Her work has appeared in Salamander, Sixth Finch, Laurel Review, Arkansas Review, Annulet, and elsewhere. She has an MFA from UC Irvine and is a PhD student at the University of Southern Mississippi.