I send you my deepest condiments
was in no way what my old friend
meant to say or write or send
the night she penned a note to me
one week after my father died.

Not condolences, or sentiments,
she sent me her deepest condiments
instead, as if the dead have need
of relish, mustard, and ketchup
on the other side.

O, the word made me laugh
so hard out loud it hurt!
So wonderfully absurd,
and such a sweet relief
at a time when it seemed

only grief was allowed in
after my father's death,
sweet and simple laughter,
which is nothing more than
breath from so far deep inside

it often brings up with it tears.
And so I laughed and laughed
until my sides were sore.
And later still, I even cried
a little more.

Taylor Mali, “My Deepest Condiments” from Bouquet of Red Flags (Write Bloody Books, 2014). Copyright © 2014 by Taylor Mali. Reprinted with the permission of the author.