Savoring the “The Consolation of Apricots” by Diane Ackerman

 

Hello, Friends. I’m so glad you’re here today.

Hope you’re doing well despite these crazy, scary, unbelievably challenging times.

Please help yourself to a warm cuppa and a fresh-from-the-oven apricot scone while you savor Diane Ackerman’s sumptuous poem.

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“Apricot Still Life” by Julie L’Heureux

 

THE CONSOLATION OF APRICOTS
by Diane Ackerman

Especially in early
spring,
when the sun
offers a thin
treacle of warmth,
I love to sit
outdoors
and eat sense-
ravishing apricots.

Born on sun-
drenched trees in
Morocco,
the apricots have
flown the Atlantic
like small comets,
and I can taste
broiling North
Africa in their
flesh.

Somewhere
between a peach
and a prayer,
they taste of well
water
and butterscotch
and dried apples
and desert
simooms and lust.

Sweet with a
twang of spice,
a ripe apricot is
small enough to
devour
as two
hemispheres,
Ambiguity is its
hallmark.

How to eat an
apricot:
first warm its
continuous curve
in cupped hands,
holding it
as you might a
brandy snifter,

then caress the
velvety sheen
with one thumb,
and run your
fingertips
over its nap,
which is shorter
than peach fuzz,
closer to chamois.

Tawny gold with a
blush on its
cheeks,
an apricot is the
color of shame
and dawn.
One should not
expect to drink
wine
at mid-winter,
Boethius warned.

What could be
more thrilling
then ripe apricots
out of season,
a gush of taboo
sweetness
to offset the
savage wistfulness
of early spring?

Always eat
apricots at
twilight,
preferably while
sitting in a sunset
park,
with valley lights
starting to flicker
on
and the lake
spangled like a
shield.

Then, while a trail
of bright ink
tattoos the sky,
notice how the sun
washes the earth
like a woman
pouring her gaze
along her lover’s
naked body,

each cell receiving
the tattoo of her
glance.
Wait for that
moment
of arousal and
revelation,
then sink your
teeth into the flesh
of an apricot.

~ from I Praise My Destroyer (Random House, 1998)

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“Great Breakfasts of My Childhood” by Ryan Warren

“Every Boy and Girl Needs a Hot Breakfast”/Cream of Wheat ad by Frederic Kimball Mizen (1926)

 

Good Morning!

Hungry for a little breakfast?

Coming right up!

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Top ‘o the Morning Lucky Charms Pancakes

 

GREAT BREAKFASTS OF MY CHILDHOOD
by Ryan Warren

My grandfather liked to fry potatoes on Sundays,
peppery and thick with soft onions,
though he knew I did not care for onions,
people didn’t seem to ask much then
children’s opinion on food preparation.
My grandfather, who lived to pull crisp waffles
from the electric iron, though always soggy
by the time you ate them. Who loved a big stack
of Krusteze pancakes, cooked a little too black,
adorned by cold chunks of margarine and Log Cabin Syrup.
On weekdays, though, it was oatmeal,
thick from the pot, clumps of hardening raisins
softening as they were stirred in
with milk, with little rocks of brown sugar.
occasionally, Cream of Wheat instead.
My mother rose later, with my brothers,
and breakfast from her was always a surprise —
though she loved toast the best. Cheese toast,
melted cheddar sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon toast,
toast with peanut butter, with honey, with butter and jam,
with a soft boiled egg quivering atop, sprinkled
with salt and pepper. Eggs, eggs so many ways.
Scrambled with hot dogs, with cheese. Poached. Fried,
yolk unbroken, toast to sop up that sunny puddle of delight.
We were a breakfast family, no “Just a cup of coffee for me.”
Breakfast — to fortify your day, arm you for school, work,
occasionally, and for feverish stretches at a time, for church.
Different churches, different times. We moved in strange
cycles of devotion. But from breakfast we never wavered.
I’ve never understood those for whom food is merely fuel.
And I’m sure they’ve never understood me. How even a bowl
of sugar cereal, dug deep into a cartooned Saturday morning,
Lucky Charms or Captain Crunch or Frosted Flakes
or whatever had been on sale that week, could be a kind of devotion,
a ritual, richer than any of the churches we wove in and out of.
Or sometimes we just had it for dessert.
Don’t even get me started on dessert.

~ first published in The Scarlet Leaf Review (April 2017)

 

Pooh Toast by Marie Saba

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a childhood thanksgiving memory: “américa” by richard blanco

“The Cup of Coffee” by Cuban artist Lorenzo Romero Arciaga (1940)

 

When Presidential Inaugural Poet, author and civil engineer Richard Blanco was growing up in Miami with his Cuban-exile family during the early 70’s, he longed to be a “true American” like one of the kids in “The Brady Bunch.”

He describes it as living between two imagined worlds:

One world was the 1950s and ’60s Cuba of my parents and grandparents — that paradise, that homeland so near and yet so foreign to where we might return any day, according to my parents. A homeland that I had never seen . . .

The other, less obvious world was America . . . Typical of a child, I contextualized America through food, commercials, G-rated versions of our history in textbooks and television shows, especially The Brady Bunch. More than a fiction or fantasy, I truly believed that, just north of the Miami-Dade County line, every house was like the Brady house, and every family was like them.

Much of Blanco’s poetry centers around his search for cultural identity. Over and over, he asks the questions, “Where is my home? Where am I from? Where do I belong?”

When he was a graduate student at Florida International University, he wrote the following poem, inspired by a childhood memory of wanting an “authentic” Thanksgiving meal.

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three food poems by naomi shihab nye

 

“Poetry allows us to cherish what we’re given. Whether it be a heartbreak, a second chance, a soft morning mist, a moment or . . . an onion, poetry, with its impossible-seeming combination of soft lens and precision, brings to our awareness that which might otherwise go unseen, unrecognized, un-cherished. Poetry opens us to life, to surprise, to shadow, to beauty, to insight.”

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

 

 

Happy to join my Poetry Friday friends today in celebrating Naomi Shihab Nye, who was just named the 2019-2021 Young People’s Poet Laureate. An award winning poet, essayist, novelist, songwriter, educator, editor, and anthologist, Naomi calls herself “a wandering poet,” and is the first Arab American to earn this honor.

For the past 40+ years she’s traveled all over the country and the world leading workshops and inspiring students of all ages, using her own writing “to attest to our shared humanity.” She is currently Professor in Creative Writing-Poetry at Texas State University, and makes her home in San Antonio.

Naomi is a natural born poet; she wrote her first poem at age six. As Young People’s Poet Laureate, she will work to bring poetry to geographically underserved or rural communities. With her sensitivity, insight, cultural awareness, compassion and enormous heart, she is the seer and sage we need right now to show us how words can heal, unify, delight, and enlighten.

 

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all aboard for the dining car!

Early Pullman dining car (late 19th century)

 

Ah, the romance of trains.

Is there anything more elegantly delicious than a freshly cooked meal served in a dining car?

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photo of Southern Railways diner by Bill Schafer (1973)

 

THE DINING CAR OF THE SOUTHERN CRESCENT
by John Campbell

The Southern Crescent
snakes its way through
the rolling fog shrouded
piedmont landscape;
a young man on spring break,
returning home from
college, crosses the creaky
passageway that leads from
Pullmans to the dining car.

Breakfast smells give rise to
an ambitious order of fresh coffee,
country ham with red eye gravy,
grits, scrambled eggs and
biscuits with blackberry jam.

The waiter, agile and accomplished,
dressed in a white starched apron,
steadies himself against the swaying
motion of the train; with serving tray
in hand and balanced, he places the
piping hot breakfast on a table decked
with a linen table cloth, pewter
creamers, thick silverware, coffee
cups and saucers and plates, etched with
a crescent moon insignia; a small
bundle of daffodils sit in a crystal
vase near the window.

The young man with the vittles before him,
relishes a feeling of adult composure
and delight. “How could life be this good?”
A breakfast fit for a king, waiters
eager to please, railway views of
rural Carolina: tenant shanties,
grazing black angus, abandoned junkyards,
brownstone depots and sleepy towns.

He, still unfamiliar with the niceties
of the wealthy elite, or even the acquired
dignities of his college
professors, avows, while pouring
coffee from a silver carafe into
a Syracuse China cup, that the
dining car of the Southern Crescent
is a place of utmost refinement.

~ from January Snow and Other Poems (Williams & Company, 2008)

 

Dining Car 3158 built by Pullman for Southern Railway in 1924. Original design featured open windows, clerestory roof, and ornate 1920’s fixtures (via TVRR).

 

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