I stopped writing poetry three years ago; about the same time I took up the cooking chores. Too many poets, like cooks, spoil the froth and the quaff. My cuisine still tastes like prose but occasionally I may come up with something transcendent that knocks at least one sock off.
In the kitchen and in the den the chef becomes his own best critic. What’s on the page and on the stove are both made things; a spicy word here, a pinch of salt there can make it a tasty dish to set before the king. An un-needed adjective is like too much garlic or over-cooked chicken. An unexpected word that warrants repeated readings is that hint of tarragon on the coc au vin or basil in the salad.
So now we have Peggy’s poetry cooking in her oven and I have hot stuff baking in mine. The difference is that she has to eat my offerings. Of course, I also subsist on her leaping metaphors which can launch me inter-galactically.
I’ve got spaghetti boiling its heart out on one burner, mushrooms and turkey meatballs braising in olive oil on another, beets warming on a third while I’m heating the French bread at 350 and throwing together a salad with stanzas of artichoke, pine nuts, snap peas and the usual greens.
Peggy brings me the poem she’s been working on. I have a problem with her word, hearty, to describe the air a spiky palm tree breathes. As I drizzle in the pesto she warns me about insufficient olive oil. She subtracts a line, adds another. I become more mindful of moistening the pasta.
Her poem ends with a zinger as the disparate parts meet in a tenuous whole just as I try to bring the dishes to the table to wake the tongue with spaghetti al dente, crisp bread, and salad with layers that resist identification.