House of the Tomato

If a woman wants to be a poet, she must dwell in the house of the tomato. -- Erica Jong

Regional website for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, in partnership with the Reader's Loft.

GREEN BAY / NORTHEAST

Celebrating, sharing and inspiring poetry throughout Wisconsin.

Cooking Lesson

It's our anniversary tomorrow... which was the inspiration for this poem... I just hope I am not too trite with the bitter and sweet... tried to write it new... but let me know if it works.

Cooking Lesson

     My husband holds my hand.
The chef wears those black shoes 
chefs wear, chunky but slip-resistant. 

     The sky above the sink is radiant, full of 
promise, chef at the center of buttery fluorescence, 
like a daffodil in her own kitchen, instructing us.

     We wear aprons that repeat the utility
of hers, all eight of us, four disparate couples.
We can't see water but sense it

     breaking up, thawing, adding to the silvery
sheen of the restaurant kitchen, stainless steel
everywhere like an ocean liner, prowing.

   She introduces the menu: stuffed turkey
breast, bacon-wrapped asparagus, homemade
coffee ice-cream. She hands each pair of us

     a silver ring with recipe cards, cooking tips.
We will learn knife skills, flavor profiles,
chef technique. My husband is impressed

     with the sharpness of knives. I like 
how the chef washes her hands, turning 
the water on and off with her elbows. 

     The handsoap smells of lemon verbena. 
My husband and I compare breasts. His is precision,
meaty. Mine is tender, well-salted, spiced with

     flecks of pepper. We have an urge to kiss
but repress it for later, deliciously. He pats
my breast appreciatively. I bump him away

     with a hip so we can pay attention.
The chef demonstrates how to chiffonade,
rolling leaves of basil like a cigar,

     slicing ribbons of green. They are bounty
in the stuffing. We are born again 
bacon lovers. She recommends a brand

     we will search for, remembering the weekend,
our anniversary, but we don't count the years. 
We count the shared trysts, geocaching

     the very beginning. Having children is such a
political act, like nurturing little lobbyists. I remember 
my ideals in the coffee smell of his neck.

    The sound of a grinder can mean tragedy.
As parents we never lose that heightened sense.
The chef makes us care about locally-grown.

    There's a window on the ice cream
I can't resist, thick with heavy cream and sugar,
silty stream of brewed arabica the chef

     pours from a french press, plunging grounds, 
steeped by time and fair trade, drum-swirling 
a beautiful balance of bitter and sweet.

© 2017 House of the Tomato