Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby


Book Excerpt: The Naming of Strays


Murder is commoner among cooks than
members of any other profession.
-W.H. Auden

That first love in France—
one live oyster on a fisherman’s boat.
A child palate of potato, string
cheese turned. What a cook would kill
for now—flamboyantly red
marrow in Singapore stalls,
Ecuadorian goat brain that sizzles
in the cigarette dark streets.
One whole cobra–blood, bile,
its beating heart in white ramekin.

We eat and we become
something hungry. The kabobed meat
blackening on charcoal,
the blown-glass beauty of chocolate
and the roasted sweet of spring onion
in Spain’s high sun
destroys us forever
to the too-dry chickens of our mothers,
their casseroles of frozen broccoli
and turkey cutlet.

And there is nothing
left of us but the urge
to consume
something miraculous—stained glass
sushi windows, the snowball perfect
truffle of fresh ricotta,
and all those edible flowers,
nasturtium and zucchini blossom
like butterflies in the sheet

If we kill, it is from desire—
the porcelain fill of bowls with our soups,
the want of something we can hold
to our lips, in our mouths,
and devour.

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