Vox Populi

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Jenne R. Andrews: Calabrian Garlic


In her window, a basket of garlic reaching for the sun.

She broke off one of its fat cloves and took the knife


to it, using the blade’s flat to mash the nub open;

then she peeled off the papery rind and there it was,


sending its quartered objections into the air,

disempowered and redolent.


I sat back in the shadows with my love, her son Pepe;

we sipped Latte di Mandorla and watched Mama


in her cooking dance: how she carefully took a knuckle

from butcher paper, sliding it into a boiling pot,


mincing fresh basil, crushing pomodori for the sauce.

We kissed, and longing surged in us and his tongue


was as tensile and searching as the garlic’s green

and inquiring foot, and I dared not touch the tendrils


of his desire then. But later, spent and laughing after dinner,

I kissed again his garlicky mouth, and much later, we wept


briny tears of rapture, rising to walk the edge of paradise,

the lolling Calabrian phosphor on the Strait of Messina.


I saw something arc through the air, and he said

it was the pesce spada, swordfish in rising-moon ardor.


I said within myself, with my poet’s heart, thinking

of Homer’s stunned walk in this very place,


That is Scylla herself, exulting in the tide that forces

garlic-stricken lovers into each other’s arms at all hours.


Soon I boarded a train north, away from Mama, Papa

and the babies lolling in everyone’s arms at dusk


in the kitchen; many years later, there is no trace

of them now, not even anything legible in a book


of names, as if I had conjured all of it from thin air,

my indoctrination into a hard, polished love


tinted by flash in the pan anger, like the pink

water-laved stones one finds in the surf,


la famiglia’s work-weary and serene faces

as we walked the garden.


This is what I remember now: all of them cloistered

in simplicity and resolve, like the purposeful garlic


in the window basket—sublimely impermanent,

sheathed in undaunted light.

copyright 2015 Jenne R. Andrews


3 comments on “Jenne R. Andrews: Calabrian Garlic

  1. namelessneed
    May 23, 2015

    After some time, I find myself coming back to your fine work here, and find it a satisfying good read, again/ thanx & keep on

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia A. McGoldrick
    April 7, 2015

    Beautiful poem, Jenne. Garlic works so well as an analogy in your words, a slice of life and memory. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. muzikonerileri
    April 7, 2015

    haha sarımsak

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on April 7, 2015 by in Poetry and tagged , , , , , , .

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