A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: cooking

7/30: HOW MAKING A ROUX IS LIKE LEARNING TO LOVING YOURSELF

Over the stove,
I stir the pot of what I hope
will become the foundation
of something beautiful

It takes time
for the fire
to travel through
every particle
of flour and oil

I give thanks to my wrist
for the gift of
consistent movement

My mind’s eye
mesmerized by the
merry-go-round
of sounds and colors

The roux changes
by the second
evolving into
who it’s supposed to be—

And what about me?

I’m afraid of my own alchemy.

Who knows how much time
it takes to change
The roux asks me to wait,
says it’s on its way
And somehow
I find the patience I refused to give myself
Yesterday.

When the roux doesn’t burn,
when the color of my imagination
paints itself across the Dutch oven,
I smile to myself, proud with purpose
In love with who I just was,
telling myself,
all this time was worth it—

and that has to be enough.

19/30: MIRACLE OF SLOW HEAT

All day, we wait for the roast to fall apart
in the most beautiful way. I teach you how
to sear chuck roast in the Dutch Oven.
The oil pops a righteous song
We two-step in the kitchen.
I tell you to trust the process.
A textbook sear appears.
We’re nearly there, my love.
No need for a recipe,
I know where we’re going.
With a little patience,
Dinner is on the way.
Tonight we put our trust
in the miracle of slow heat.
I am a man in love with the idea of tenderness,
no matter how long it takes.

19/30: BUTTER SIDE TO HEAVEN

Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us,
for the amount of garlic and butter we spread
across this loaf. This loaf is God’s to unload.
Heaven is a place so take this bread like a ticket.
Give us this bread, and lay it inside the oven,
Butter side to heaven. Butter side to sky.
Butter side to stars. Butter side to moon.
Butter side to sun. Butter side to ancestors.
I stand atop the mountain of bread and lead
this prayer alongside those who remember
why we are here: is it not to rise? is it not
to become? is it not our purpose to melt
the meaning of a moment into memory?
At the altar of the dinner table, I break bread
with my beloved. We pull apart what the
heavens held like the humans we are.
We open our mouths like saints
and taste a miracle.

23/30: PART ONE

At first,
You don’t cook out of love.

You cook out of necessity.
If the body is a temple,
The gospel is grocery shopping.
You cook what you can
depending on what you have
but mostly you cook
for hunger
because you are hungry
because none of your brothers are home
you are six and alone
the apartment is dark
like the false concept of manhood
Your mom is working late
Your mom has a date
with a man
and your brothers fight
like men
but you are six with nothing in your stomach.

The expression
“Close mouths don’t get fed”
assumes food is on the table
Ready to eat
You want to cook, to take
something fresh and
turn it anew with purpose.
Or maybe it’s more simple.
The free lunch at school was too predictable
but at least it’s breakfast, at least it’s lunch.

You cook
because your hands have the tendency
to create, the repeated history of
obnoxious disobedience runs
through your bones but
have you ever trusted
a cast-iron skillet
with all your might,
ever felt the quiet organization
of what you want turn soft like
onions sautéed in slow sugar
like the moon moments before total darkness
ever felt the pang of craving
turn you into a creature caught
in the ritual of rising steam,
ever put a plate
in front of a room full of people
feel the silence boil over brilliant
ever see the meal disappear
along with the legacy of growling,
which chooses
to crawl through bodies without apology
as if the mouth is no place for forgiveness.