I take back what you have stolen and in your languages I announce I am now nameless.
My true name is a growl.
Margaret Atwood

3 April 2018

Stoic Tastes Gypsy Wild Preserves



stoic tastes gypsy wild preserves
I don't need to pickle your face in formaldehyde
it's been salt seasoned for so long now
you, wearing a pinched vinegar mouth and peppercorn eyes
cool and collecting dust like your precious collection
of porcelain tchotchies, but for the strangely absent
Babushkas -
does Baba Yaga haunt your dreams mother?
She visits me regularly and we arm wrestle
- my chickenfleshed arms flabby to her strength
She is a champion
smoking homemade dill pickles and green beans -
and you? mourning the loss of a few jars that popped
botched-ulism waiting in the tasting
of the bin bags, as soured as the angels you've lost
the whispered shame miscarried on your wings
as family gathered after the harvests to preserve
traditions in open secrets, as intricate as pysanka
for the tender holding -
and I? I love pickled beets
tangy sharp, earthy, grounded for the rooting barefoot on the farm
running wild like hot wind blowing sandy loam in your eyes
a gypsy bee in your bonnet
in fact, I'm curiously aware
I must have been bathed in embryonic brine


*
after: Imaginary Garden with Real Toads: Tuesday Platform - NaPoWriMo Style - No Roots by Alice Morton


The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.
Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.
-Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume 





20 comments:

  1. WOW!!! AND TOMATOES ARE MY FAVOURITE VEG/FRUIT/BERRY

    much love...

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    1. thanks Gillena - and yeah, I love the food analogies Tom Robbins makes throughout that particular book - it's a hoot!

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  2. I love how you have used the pickling as the theme to bring out the roots... family recipes we all have them... but we never pickled ourselves, more the cookies and the jams... Apparently I loved pickled beets as a toddler, but have not cared for it much since.

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    1. thanks Bjorn! family treasures - I come from a family of cooks and bakers, so we're heavy on food and preserves - and it's funny how tastes change - I used to eat pickled herring by the jarful when I was small, yet shudder now at even thinking about it - I'm guessing it would be a texture thing.

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  3. Wow, what a food fantasy. Makes me want to either eat, garden or read Tom Robbins' book again

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    1. Preferably all at the same time! My three favourite "past times" - eating/cooking, gardening by nature and roots, and reading/writing - and oh Tom Robbins! What a voice and imagination - and such a great book - one of my absolute faves! thanks Colleen ๐Ÿƒ

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  4. Oh, stop it! Now you make me want pickled herring, with your comment to Bjorn, and it's unobtainable where I live now. That poem is wicked in all senses of the word – it practically spits – and the Robbins quote is a joy.

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    1. LOL - so sorry Rosemary! It's weird how food availabilities are local and logistic! Even within one's own country, as you explore, in my case, province to province. But I can't say I'm missing pickled herring. Wish I could send you a jar.
      thanks for your reading - yes, in some way, this is prickly and spiny - but I don't feel any malice about it. Just and exploration. As for the quote? Don't know if you've ever read Jitterbug Perfume or any other Tom Robbins, but he is fun, snide, snarky, hip and although not to everyone's tastes, definitely a highly imaginative and creative voice. ๐Ÿƒ

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  5. Ha, I love the Tom Robbins quote. And love this poem full of wonderful family lore and veggie themes.......this took me back to the days when people cooked whole foods, lol. I had a huge garden when my kids were young, it was marvellous. I enjoyed every line of this poem. And your mom sounds like a hoot!

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    1. Oh Mom, mom has lived a very extreme and hard life, and forgiveness between us has been hard earned and waged over many dark family secrets. But it can make for interesting mining for the proverbial "golden beet" ---
      yeah, nothing like garden/farm fresh food (I was lucky to live in both worlds, city by my parents, farm by grandparents - nothing beats freshly sun-picked anything!) glad you tripped back down memory lane. ๐Ÿƒ

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  6. Your mother sounds like mine was. My mother cooked and canned everything. She even made her own ketchup. Your poem is delightfully vivid.

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    1. picking and preserving was a means of necessity - my mother grew up on the farm, big family - and dirt poor - so it was something that made great sense - harvest what you sow - and although this poem is gritty, I have some really happy and deliciously silly memories about these "preserving sessions" too.

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  7. As a fairy tale fan, I was struck by how much more the protagonist preferred Baba Yaga's company over her mother's. There is a lot of vinegar between the two to use for pickling.

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    1. oh yeah, gallons and gallons of vinegar - makes for a heated relationship, but time works itself into a smoothness with less bite and sting, sometimes ~ it was interesting, and I admit, I hold an intense and personal affection for Baba Yaga ~
      thanks for stopping in Rommy

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  8. Okay, I hate it when I pour blood and soul into a piece of writing and people only comment about some trivial detail, but I can't help myself this time--I am going to do exactly that. I sowwy. Pickled beets!!!!! I am instantly 14 again. My aunt knew I loved them and always made sure to have some when I visited. The poem is stellar, and the contrast between mother and grandmother is striking. They say thing skip a generation...clearly something did that here. Okay, off to scarf down some chicken paprikash at the table by the hollyhocks. ;-)

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    1. LOL - s'okay, I'm okay with it ~ especially if it's brought something good to your day and mind memories. And thanks for the incredible compliment about the piece! Hope you had a wonderful munch, sounds delish - wish we had anything other than snow outside, because anything a la fresco is most often better.
      ๐ŸƒPat

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  9. A delicious poem full of myth and mirth...good bedfellows.

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  10. Essence of home,relatives and all - love it :-)

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  11. "peppercorn eyes..." that is just exceptional. You write of several things dear to my heart here--reconciling the mother, farms and gardens and cookery, beets in all forms--I loved Jitterbug Perfume, and the whole beet obsession thing he had in it--and finally, Baba Yaga--I've written about her numerous times. She is the realest witch of all, I think. I probably would be afraid to arm wrestle her myself. Such a refreshing thing to read such quirky, original poetry these days--thanks for the verbal ride.

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    1. thank you Joy! LOL@ JBP - it's such an amazing book. It was just so wild. I agree about Baba Yaga, she is such a force majeure - or cas fortuit. I'm glad so much resonated for you in my piece and appreciate your comment
      ๐ŸƒPat

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thanks for sharing your thoughts, I greatly appreciate it.