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Like My Chowder, The Air Is Too Salty

Posted on August 19th, 2013

Like my chowder, the air is too salty today. I push it aside and glare, not quite hungrily, at my over cooked steak. You might wonder why I’d order a steak at a fish house anyway. If Mom were still alive, she’d probably wonder the same thing and give me that look. Or, depending on if it was her 2nd or 3rd vodka soda, she might warble shrilly, “You come all the way to the Vineyard and you order the steak, for Christ’s sake Billy, don’t you appreciate anything?” “Is everything ok, sir?” The waiter is a college-aged dude of a dude–his name tag reads “Tomas from Odessa, Ukraine”. He’s got a mini-turd of fuzz on his chin, a buzz cut and a tryzub…

Mahango and Mutete

Posted on August 19th, 2013

Dust, red and yellow and all shades of tan. Heat, outside the windows of the car. We have been driving for a long time, on an unwavering road through an unbroken vista of thorn trees, warthogs dodging across the tarmac, a lone gemsbok watching us with doleful eyes from the bush. The sky is huge and blue and unending. This is Africa, this is Namibia, the land fenced and quartered but still open, still empty. At a crossroads, we turn past a petrol station and suddenly are in the thick of Rundu on payday, the streets teeming with people buying, selling, walking to buy or sell, or standing in the long line at the ATM in order to do either. It is noon, and…

Epazote: A Rhoda No Longer

Posted on August 19th, 2013

It’s only my first summer as a backyard gardener, but I’m already anthropomorphizing my plants. I think of the tomatoes as the Mary Tyler Moore of the backyard plot — perfect, pure, sweet, and understandably popular. An informal poll of my social group indicates that most people (including me) would give up nearly anything — cheese, chocolate, even gluten — before submitting to tomato abstention. They’re just that lovable. If my precious heirloom tomatoes are Mary Tyler Moore, then the nearby potted epazote plants are the equivalent of Rhoda, Mary’s spunky (and underappreciated) best friend. Epazote doesn’t get much in the way of summer lovin’. It’s never had a glossy layout in a culinary magazine and, unless you’ve worked in a Mexican restaurant or…

Lobster

Posted on August 19th, 2013

They say sing and you do, blithely, bright as a bird, as the cracked meat, red on a white plate and I sit, stoppered up, shy, private with my hands doing some small dance on my hidden lap– my playing, better but yours, public–   some future date some stray breath of sea snaps the line taut once more and there, the distant glitter of the off key–I still don’t perform to strangers, any of the secrets, knuckle deep, shell sweet.

“I know what you ate last summer…And the summer before that, And the summer before that…”

Posted on August 19th, 2013

Grapes that gush – with cotton candy? Melons that melt – into lemonade? This universe is more diverse For cousins bred and heirlooms saved.       For school, I took a big red apple. Delicious? Once, but now no more. And then Pink Lady turned my head; The doctor’s advice again is sure.       Get thee to a local garden – Plant a seed, and watch it grow – Then savor the flavor of all your efforts! (The monocrop’s a dinosaur.)

A Job Well Done

Posted on August 19th, 2013

The sun is hot, but not heavy. I can feel my skin heating up, first warm to the touch, but then hot. Every bit of exposed skin is tingling, tightening. Soon I will burn. My face starts to sweat. I can feel it running down my neck, leaving trails in the dirt like an old map. My hands are working furiously. Gently, each branch needs to be lifted, pinching between the thorns. The ripe berries hang, weighing down the branches. They stain my fingers. I pick as quickly as I can, it seems like they are ripening faster than I can pick. Soon the bucket is full. Heavy. Rich with possibility. By the time I get home my heart is pounding. My hands are…

Brief History

Posted on August 19th, 2013

I. The fish is not large enough. It is black and nearly round, and then other colors when it lands, spines out, in my palm, and we have killed it anyway. It drifts cockeyed beneath the cement that makes up this small bridge. The road is dusty. I lie down on my stomach, and stretch a still pale arm, a burning back, down to catch the body as it makes its way into the tunnel. It slips against my fingers. Don’t tell anyone, you say, laughing, and I say that I won’t, only now, I have. The beer smell won’t leave my water bottle for a month. The sunburn goes, after two days. The bruised plum that I eat in the hot car on…

Howard

Posted on August 19th, 2013

[The Fourth of July.  A suburban backyard, two hours before sundown.  Mismatched Sedans and SUVs line the ring of the Cul-De-Sac in front of the house.  About two dozen adults sip canned beer from cozies and participate in conversations of as many as six and as few as one other adult.  Roughly the same number of children run zig-zag patterns and yell wordlessly throughout the yard, portions of the adjacent yards, and the Cul-De-Sac.  Two plastic washtubs, one filled with beercans floating in water that was ice not long ago, the other likewise but with soda, sit in the sun next to a worn wooden deck, slowly growing warmer.  An arm’s length away sits a slightly rusted charcoal grill, the white-grey ash collected in…