“The Rebirth of Venus” by Luisa Giulianetti

The Kitchen Goddess by JoAnne Tucker, painting of woman in orange dress dancing in a frying pan

Image: “The Kitchen Goddess” by JoAnne Tucker. “The Rebirth of Venus” was written by Luisa Giulianetti for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, February 2023, and selected as the Artist’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)


Luisa Giulianetti


I blew that half shell. Took to the waiting shore
found new digs and never looked back. Feet
happily calloused and belly full. In this kitchen
I reign supreme. Stir my own pot. Garland
my tresses with wild rosebuds. My monarch
gown wings marigold as I glissade
across the maple floor to the awaiting catch.
I hold a fanned scallop between my thumb
and forefinger, slide the knife and twist. Prize
open the hinge. Free plump flesh from its frilly
skirt. Rinse, dry, salt. Sear the lot in cast iron.
Tang their sweetness with fresh orange. Pair
with earthy fennel. Create counterbalance.
Like dancing. Like mercy. Arms boughed in offering
for this body that spins me. Holds me. I linger
in betweenness: falling and stillness. The firm
and laze of muscle. My tongue curls sturdy seeds,
cradles supple bites. The ancient skillet seasons
flavors anew. I feast memory—ocean, sand, brine.
Instead of praying, I sauté. Leap.
The world, glorious and hungry, beneath my feet.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
February 2023, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, JoAnne Tucker: “I was delighted and surprised at the range of emotions and different journeys that were expressed in the poems which I reviewed. The pastel painting was part of a show calling for work on the theme of the kitchen goddess. I approached the painting from a whimsical point of view placing a dancer in a frying pan. The poem that I have selected captures the playfulness of the painting. It is called ‘The Rebirth of Venus’ and the opening lines refer back to the painting ‘Birth of Venus’ by Botticelli. I have fond memories of seeing that painting when I visited the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. I laughed with delight with the phrase ‘found new digs.’ While the Botticelli painting was not on my mind when I created my kitchen goddess, the reference shows how two paintings inspired the poem, and I love that. In the poem, the poet has the dancing goddess opening a scallop and of course the original Venus is standing in a scallop shell. In addition, the poet also captured so well the feeling of the dancer in the kitchen ‘reigning supreme.'”

Rattle Logo