The flavor is in the blood

swords05Any cook will tell you, when you brown meat and rest it on the plate, blood will accumulate there and you always use that blood, or whatever juice comes out, when you put it in the pot.

I sat in the hot tub thinking, when was it I started tweaking like this? Has it been all my life? Is the brain like a piece of fruit that ripens over time, destined only to draw flies? Seeing old friends was sad when they looked older, and I realized so must I—we are all in a race that no one wants to win, this march of life, this procession.

I halved the dried prunes and soaked them in a cup of brandy longer than I needed, but figured it couldn’t hurt. The French pork stew with prunes and cream, Dijon mustard, served over buttered noodles, the fat pappardelle egg pasta that costs $7 a package but you only get eight ounces, so I had to buy two.

Trying to relax in the hot tub but distracted by all that needed to be picked out of the water. The satisfying look of a newly stacked woodpile. Week-old vegetable oatmeal soup for lunch, cold, the breakdown in proteins that makes it stringy but still good. The ever-battered and beaten up kitchen, how the cupboards get sticky from the oil and catch hair like flypaper, how it adheres like a skin. And dare I look at the fins at the base of the refrigerator where the fan blows, the hair down there like an old man’s mustache.

How things would get put in the fridge with no rhyme or reason if it weren’t for me, the sheriff of condiments, applying logic to the leftovers, grouping them. How regularly I have to cull through the duplicates in sauces and dressings—how sometimes a large container of yogurt gets put there with hardly a spoonful remaining…or a bottle of wine, with just a finger or two.

The sickly condition of the dish washer, the strange grime that amasses there like coffee grounds, or potting soil. And where does it come from? The brown stains that flare up from stagnant water on the dish rack, how hard it is to remove. And the sad insides of our stove…of the microwave…cooking is a dirty business, and so is living together: we are all like pack animals in our lairs, shifting like pigs in the straw, in our stalls.

Having to listen to Lily and her friends watch a slasher film on the laptop while I’m trimming the pork. The screaming and cutting sounds as I handle the meat. Watching my legs underwater in the hot tub and how bloated they look, thinking about getting old. Refilling the tub with the hose but forgetting it was on, dozing in the hammock…waking to the sound of Charlotte crying from the house, “It’s overflowing!”—and me, running through the grass to turn it off. Dodging poop, barefoot.

Having Lily read my Tarot Friday night and starting with the Five of Swords (never good), a distant loss she says, weighing on my consciousness. Ending with the Six of Pentacles, a good card, and me as a sharer of wisdom, just a satchel’s worth…

Advice for would-be poets: if athletes train by going to the gym, your training comes from brooding by the lake, from looking inside…from finding yourself in the spaces between the clouds and the layers beneath the surface…it’s what’s in you, the blood, that gives it the flavor.

Categories: identity, prose, writing

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43 replies

  1. Fascinating to encounter another’s latent thoughts and recognize the patterns …
    At our place there is hair in everything. We have a Labrador, and she generates “Chihuahuas” that accumulate along the baseboards, in front of the fridge, anywhere a shoe is left, … well, you know.
    My other recognition is regarding poet’s “training” (I like to think of this as practice, self-sought) – absolutely essential to go inward – helps to take along observations of surroundings and toss them to and fro within the interior. My best love poem (2011) focuses on the kitchen sink.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jazz, that’s a fantastic comment and insight, thanks for sharing. Hair. I sit on the sofa in our den and if the light is right I wish it weren’t, if you follow…love poem and kitchen sink, I can see that. Beauty in the banal, thank god for that…we have enough banal don’t we?!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved the juxtaposition of cutting up the meat and the slasher film. And then a slow pan to the Five of Swords (never good).
    Do you know Roger McGough? Terrific British poet, quirky and potent. He wrote one called
    “There was a Knock on the Door. It was the Meat”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This one has all the hallmarks of your voice yet feels especially relaxed. Like it’s not straining, just kind of spilling out effortlessly in a way that is still somehow packaged and balanced very nicely. I like this groovy feel. But the girls and I saw the Animal Grossology exhibit at the museum today, and they could just not tear themselves away, so I’ve definitely had my fill of hair and blood and stickiness now, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Always a pleasure to keep reading ya. This one provoked my random hello. Be careful with the tarot. Thats some freaky stuff. I did a bunch of readings years ago, them cards were talking too loud though gave me the creeps. I do have the “shining” though so that added to it, but prolly anyone drawn to them has got a bit of that, so be warned!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful! Perhaps your best.

    Want to get that DNA testing.

    I love you. Mom 💕💕☘️☘️💕💕

    Sent from my iPad



  6. Ooh, love this – despite/because of the grossness. All that fat and hair – so true. I fight a constant battle against my house smelling like an Indian restaurant because of my husbands love of cooking curry. Whole place smells like turmeric!
    Love those parallels between the horror movie and the pork prep too – all that ‘long pig’ being dissected onscreen while you’re performing your own culinary autopsy in the kitchen.
    Feels like hunkering down time again, doesn’t it? I know you love the autumn and all these shortened days. Happy hunkering with that wood pile 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I like the grit of this. Makes me feel at home.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. yes, the hair and the grease -there is no fighting them back, like the dust than continues to settle

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m reminded of a post by another blogger I follow, bluebrightly, a photographer who can take pictures of the mundane and make them look interesting. Here you take the dregs and give them life, from cabinet grease to the spaces between clouds.

    Liked by 3 people

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  11. Hey Bill, great piece. A lot of stuff, whether sitcoms, essays, or TED’s, basically have one gag in them. You give up a chunk of your life-span, spend your time, to wade through all the blah-blah-blah, and reap…one gag. This post, you just stuffed it, and I mean that in the nicest way, replete, juiced, I’ve read it twice through, and felt like your fruit marinating in the brandy. Great stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The best advice for would-be poets and inspiration that wouldn’t harm them to do the dirty kitchen business of cooking and cleaning. The perfect trip, sit by the lake and write poetry 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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