Complacencies of the pjs, and late
Espresso and leftovers on the purple couch,
And a Car Talk rerun on the radio
As she scribbles her shopping list with
The holy rush of caffeine in her blood.
She dozes a little, then she feels the slight
Panic that she’s going to be late –
They may be out of eggs or mushrooms soon!
The fragrant melons and luscious tomatoes
Are going to be gone before too long.
Cycling across the city, with panniers.
Ollie zips west on R Street, without fear,
Save for the passing SUVs drifting
Halfway into the bike lane, toward Dupont,
Dominion of the farmers and their wares.
Why should she give her paycheck to The Man?
Is it even food if it is grown
Only in giant factories and labs?
Shall she not find at small and local farmstands
Pungent fruit and bright green kale, some of them
Among the most flavorful of the earth,
Things to be savored like the taste of heaven?
Divinity must be the food she makes herself:
Passion for homemade bread and pickles
– Eaten alone or, better, with a friend –
Elations when the meringues come out fine;
Avgolemono soup on autumn nights;
Many pleasures and a few pains, remembering
That one batch of rhubarb beer that went south.
That last is not the measure of her soul.
Scraps in the compost bin return to earth.
No need for a large trashcan, not at all,
To hold such trifling scraps of garbage here.
There is enough among us, let me tell you,
Appalling mounds of packaging and waste,
Until the Styrofoam and ziploc bags,
Piled high to heaven, cause enough distress –
Some of those jerks deserve it, but not yet.
Shall she give up? Or shall it come to be
The way she lives? And shall the earth one day
Become a paradise that we shall know?
The land will be more productive than now,
One part devotion, one part stubbornness,
But most of all a love of Mother Earth,
She will not let our planet go to Hell.
She says, “I am content when slow-cooked onions,
Before they burn, perfume the kitchen
During late morning breakfast, with their sweet aroma;
But when the meal is done, and piles of dishes
Sit in the sink, where, then, is the assistant?”
There is not any sign of a dishwasher,
Nor any elves who wash them in the night,
Neither is there a roommate who will scrub
The plates and forks before she cooks again,
Nor a companion for some time now,
Remote is the chance of one who will endure
As April’s green endures; or will endure
Like her remembrance of caramelized onions,
Or her desire for more garlic and red wine,
During the consummation of a meal.
She says, “But in contentment I still feel
The need to fill a hunger yet unsated.”
Food shared is the Food of souls; hence from it,
Alone, shall come fulfilment to our bellies
And our desires. Although Food strews the crumbs
Of sure distended tummies on occasion,
The path such gluttony has sometimes taken
When gorging on a hunk of raw milk cheese, or while
Nibbling on charcuterie, for which she has a soft spot,
When spurned by lovers lost the will to cook,
This maiden who was smitten with a vegan
Had considered relinquishing all milk.
It caused her friends to pile more icecream
In a giant bowl. The maiden tasted
And returned at once to the dairy fold.
Is there no chance of a food-loving partner?
Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the guys around here
Have no standards, no clue what food could be,
Fail to know its pleasures, and ignorant of her,
With quirks like biking compost across town,
Which some have found endearing if a bit weird
Who never save their food scraps to make stock?
Why set the table for more than one diner
Or bother setting cloth napkins today?
Alas, that solitude must settle here amid
The wistful musings of her sunny afternoon!
She flicks the dial back to NPR.
Food is the anchor of all good things, delicious,
Around the table life’s problems we devise
Solutions to as we move toward dessert.
Subtle and fragrant, a bouquet of basil
Shall be nibbled upon tomatoes ripe,
With bursting juices running down her chin,
This is her god, as much as any might be,
Here in this life it fills her, like a pitcher.
A quiet belch, and then a soft “excuse me,”
Beside the breakfast table can be heard;
And in this moment she thinks, “I am happy,”
Surrounded by a kitchen of delights,
The cutting boards, knife rack, and mess of herbs
That oft infuse her sauces, soups, and stews.
Few men know her heavenly chicken marsala
Or the rich perfume of her ratatouille.
But her friends have tasted and asked for seconds –
The dishes in the sink to that attest.
She hears, sometimes a whisper, breathless, soft,
A voice that cries, “Just cook a little less food,
It’s not like you’ve got large armies to feed.
You know you live alone, for heaven’s sake!
Besides, we live in a huge fast food nation,
And folks depend on large factory farms,
And we eat happy meals while on our phones,
Just face that fact, it’s inescapable.”
She walks across the kitchen to the fridge
And rummages about to find more jars;
She brews another batch of tart kombucha;
And, in the quiet Sunday afternoon,
Sings softly, as she minces up a shallot
And gets to work to plan another dinner,
Considers which friends this time to invite.