The Soup of Life

The meat, the meat must be beef shank. Preferable with bone in, it makes a much better tasting soup. Set it to cook in a large pot three-quarters full of water. Add the spices at this initial stage. Salt, black pepper, garlic. The amounts are not measured, taste is what matters.

It must be watched closely at first. The fat will rise and needs to be scooped out, a spoonful at a time, making the broth leaner, clearer.

You let it simmer as life simmers, gently, but persistently. Bringing memories bubbling to the surface.

“Papa, when do you add the vegetables?”

“I don’t know, Mijita.”

You know he does, but you say nothing and instead turn back to the stove. The meat is soft now and curls around its round flat bone. The bone is white as white can be, the marrow nestled in its center. You poke at it with the spoon, breaking it up into pieces, allowing its juice to mix with the broth. Meanwhile, you have chopped an onion into large chunks and added it to the broth in progress. Its layers float to the top, shimmery, translucent, adding their own juice to the ensuing broth.

It is you in the kitchen this Sunday morning. Your mother is sick, a migraine keeping her abed. You feel a deep sense of desperation. You want to fill in for her, but you can’t. You are not her and your father knows you are not her. He walks through the kitchen and steps outside, leaving you to divine the next steps. You know what the soup looks like when it’s done, but not how it gets that way.

With the fat scooped out, you can step away and leave it alone for an hour, or two, being careful not to let the broth cook away to nothing. This simmering will cause the meat to shred, making it so tender you barely have to chew it.

This soup is a staple at your house growing up. Every other Sunday the house is filled with the aroma of its cooking. Your mouth waters at the thought and you are helplessly transported back in time. You see the tall clay pot sitting on the stove, flames licking its full rounded bottom, its flared top opened wide, gaping at the ceiling, its middle pinched in like a waist. It resembles a woman’s shape, you realize, and wonder what the potter was thinking while he shaped it. It doesn’t appear to hold much, yet your mother makes sure everyone eats their fill. You can never figure out how she does that.

Once the meat has cooked through and through, it’s time for the potatoes. Scrub them well and slice them crosswise into thick slices, unpeeled. During the time they need to cook, chop up the rest of the vegetables, carrots, squash and cabbage.

Take the fresh corn on the cob and slice off the tip then shuck the corn peeling back the husk to its core, then with a firm grip, snap off the cornstalk. Under running water, work off the silk tucked into the rows of kernels. Score the center of the corn with a sharp knife and then break it in half.

The corn was your favorite part. You looked forward to it. There seemed to be so few pieces in that pot, but your mother always made sure you got one. Those firm yellow kernels glistened sweetly as you inhaled your soup, leaving the corn for last. There was no need to salt it or add anything to it; it was perfect as it was. You ate it row by row, working your way down the length of it, making it last. When all the kernels had disappeared, you siphoned out the succulent broth from within that cob, again working your way along it lengthwise, making sucking noises that made your younger siblings laugh.

When the potatoes are done, fish them out and place them in a covered dish. Add the rest of the vegetables and continue cooking. In approximately thirty minutes it will all be done.

There is not enough room in your deep stainless steel cookpot to hold all the ingredients at once. It makes no sense to you. It seems so much bigger than the clay pot of your memories. Nevertheless, you set the potatoes aside before adding the vegetables. You’re not sure when you figured out the sequence to this, if you were shown it or if it just came to you, but it matters not, now.

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I want to curl up on your lap.

And stay there forever.

I want to throw my arms around your neck.

And place my face against it.

I want to breathe you in.

I want to feel the roughness of your stubble.

I want to feel the smoothness of your throat.

I want to kiss it.

Lightly.

And then touch it with the tip of my tongue.

I want to take you in.

I want to feel your need.

I want to feed your want.

I want to run my hand through your hair.

Then bring your face to my breast.

And hold you there.

For a long, long time.

I love what you do to me.

I love what I do to you.

 

Lunch Hour

Hey, you gonna finish that?

I glance up from my limp fries to see a man leaning over me.

What?

If you’re not going to eat that, I will.

I push the plate away from me.

OK.

The chair scrapes as he pulls it back to take a seat across from me. He bends over the plate, concentrating as he starts shoveling its contents into his mouth.  The diner’s noise falls away as he goes to full screen in front of me. Only a full screen is able to present his massive presence.

We sit quietly. I’m not ready to head back to office drudgery. I’d been considering staking out a bench in the park; it’s easier to think away from those four oppressing walls. Now my attention is diverted by this intrusion into my day.

He glances up at me with a shy smile as he drags the last stringy fry through a ketchup puddle, taking his time, making it last.

Would you like some more. I could order a sandwich?

Oh, no. This was fine. I noticed you weren’t interested in eating the rest and I hate the thought of food going to waste. So many people are going hungry nowadays. Children, you know.

Who are you?

Why, I’m your conscious.

Come To Me, My Sweet

I look into your satiny decadence
Gently, ever so gently
do I hold you between my fingers
Tenderly, I bring my lips toward you
Your fragrant aroma calls to me
appealing to all my senses

I long to taste your sweetness
I long to ingest you,
ambrosia the gods were denied
I want to inhale you
and your intoxicating scent
I wish to savor you,
my most palatable treat

I lick at your rim,
running my tongue down you
Your silken froth overflows,
creamy filling gushing forth
smudging my lips, my cheeks
A moment I crave

I want you, I must have you
It is for you I wake for
Thoughts of you lure me
I cannot be sated, there is no substitute
My being cries out for you
And as I delicately partake
Into oblivion, I am lulled

In ecstasy, I close my eyes
How can something so good
be thought sinful?
Come to me, my sweet
Come to me, my luscious
My enlightened lightning,
my chocolate éclair