Writing Soup

By Esther Bradley-DeTally

(for Donna with regard to writing and all our archetypal Stews)

I am confused and bewildered
as I sit in a house
whose furniture sprawls
like forgotten toys from GoodWill and
whose books give off a musty smell which eclipse
blonde blue-eyed, strong white-toothed actresses
who are slim and young and who can write.

My eyes travel down to a patchy wood floor
My guts, no longer tensile, stick together
like an old sandwich
pressed too hard by the grill

I feel as if I am in a stew or soup
Jack is the cook
But he isn’t the cook; he is the Chef
With a Capital C

I feel as if I am in a stew or soup
Jack is the cook
But he isn’t the cook; he is the Chef
with a Capital C

He seems hot and fussy as if
he’s cooked soup for a long time
he stirs some long leggy carrots recently
shorn of their leafy green tops
He pokes sprawling “Hi I’m fresh from the farm”
tomatoes into a plankton shape
and he flicks hot juice at the parsnips
who turn into ciphers.

None of us move because
we feel like bumpy vegetables
I feel like a turnip, a rather purplish solid
turnip from New England
as I tilt from the Cook

He takes a two pronged fork and
prods the parsnips and carrots again
Then he spears a medium sized white potato which
grows soft and splits and sort of crumbles

A zucchini leans into my purple side, but
I feel contained and don’t want to go near
The Chef or the fork
I want to simmer and bob when
a chunky, juice dripping piece of beef
floats to the center and waits for the Chef
who lifts up the beef with a slatted wooden spoon
admiring its contours its bursting juices

He dips the beef back into the soup where
all the vegetables seem to get caught up
in the juice’s circular movement as
the water around me gets browner and
Chunks of flattened red tomatos float by and
miss his hand which spears and hauls me up
dripping with the soup’s flavors

He puts me on the slatted spoon and turns
me over slowly, reflectively
I am still a turnip, but I have become
softer, more yellow-orange on the inside
ready to slough off some purple edges
I get put down again near the beef and tomatoes
I move closer to the carrots and the parsnips
We all mix with the broth