MY NEIGHBOR GIVES ME MEAT BONES
I bring her persimmons from the Farmer’s Market at midday.
Last of the season. Do you like to cook? Yes, I say, I like to cook.
Do you eat meat? Yes, I say, I eat meat.
I have meat for you.
It’s frozen. Bright red. Big chunks still on the bone.
No need to call home. My parents are dead.
Anyway, it was on the farm—my mother’s childhood.
Stew meat. Beef. My grandmother cut it off the chalky bone.
I thaw the meat in the fridge. It’s slow. It takes time. Imagine.
I let the dishwasher finish yesterday’s dishes. My mother,
grandmother, neighbor—none of them needs to know
how the sloshing water quiets the kitchen.
How will I cook the meat? Oh. I have mushrooms.
Sun-dried tomatoes. A little red wine. Olives,
a few dark bitter ones from Greece. The memory
of the man I married. He’s dead, too. Sunlight
on the bamboo screen.
If it were willow and you put it in water,
it would start to grow.
—from Rattle #28, Winter 2008
Hilda Weiss: “I wrote in my journal: ‘My neighbor has given me meat bones, an odd & generous gift. Beef for stew.’ Poetry—it’s going inside; getting under the edge to see what it feels like there in the dark under the surprise—you didn’t need to do that. What did I say? ‘Yes, I like to cook.’ I went on from there in my journal riffing back and forth between the experience and what it triggered until the poem found its shape.” (web)