House of the Tomato

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

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He Called It Liquor

The Google prompt got me here… was digging the result, so dwelled for a while while I wrote this… longer for me… perhaps more aware, too? Not sure of the title.

He Called It Liquor


         I knew it as gravy, but my Scottish Husband called it liquor.
We came from the public baths.
         He said I was in for a treat.

         A sign said "Baths" beside the architraved double doors.
The liquor was green.
         The bathhouse was built of handmade clay brick.

         I felt clean as a drain.
Mash was smeared on the edges of our plates like impasto.
         At the flat we shared a bath.

         By the time the four of us fannied through,
the water had the look of gun metal.
         Yellow stock they were called or common.

         Cavernous showers with cathedral ceilings.
I tried not to be last.
          A sauce made with finely chopped parsley.

         The sound of rushing water like another natural wonder.
The booths in the pie shop were deep and dark,
         ceramic tile rubbed shiny by the promenade.

         Islands of squeeze bottles on each table.
The locker room echoed voices in many languages.
         An awning shuttered the street pea green.

         Oblong pies with fissures of layered pastry.
My body gave off steam in the thickness of a worn towel.
         He thought of himself like the bricks,

         a certain class of humanity. 
He sliced the pie's soft underbelly.
          My skin was tight with the stringency of coal tar soap.

        I (Americans?) never considered my (our?) place in the broader sense.
He meant common as in unexceptional, inferior.
        The mercy of potatoes, mince, and flecks of pepper.

        I made room at the lockers for an older cinnamon (Asian?) woman.
The grace of our nakedness, her shy small.
          I lingered for the giftwrap of her sari.

Tuck in, he said, chewing slowly.
I held the fork and knife in the hidden handle style,
   tasting how the liquor gave the plate a shared purpose.

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