The Woman Who Loves to Cook If asked, she’d say, It’s tactile: Chopping. Digging my thumbs into the ripe tomato pulp, or under the slippery skin of chicken breast to loosen it. Hands slick with oil and herbs from working meat chunks deep in marinade, she’d say, I like to fit the dripping pieces neatly in the corners of the Pyrex baking dish. Or she might say, it’s for the mother-smell of garlic and grilled lamb that hangs all evening in the work-warmed air. As she tastes and stirs, waves her spoon and laughs, offers more wine and second helpings, she won’t admit, I want to stoke your hunger with my work, then feed you with myself.
Oyster Mushrooms This morning after rain under the leaves the logs have come alive. Along their rotting mottled flanks a fleshy efflorescence gleams. Stooping through the woods’ wet clutch and snare I tear the limp frills gently from the mother bark to make my wild ragout. Hours after, my fingers keep their punky, faint smell, sad and delicious. I remember us naked in the rain.
Hungry We choose plump, bundled leeks, pale green and white, red peppers, fresh-ground sausage. We crush garlic, melt cheeses, tear the fragrant, flesh-warm bread. Loaf, roast, ragout, sauté, oh soufflé of desire! How the keen knife slices us. We coddle, simmer, stir, beat, lift the ladle to each other's lips and taste the blended flavors. Tangy, complex, sweet. At midnight, ravening, shivering in the refrigerator’s chilly glow, again we eat, with our hands, mouthful after mouthful after mouthful.
Florence Nash was born in North Carolina, graduated from UNC and, following 20-odd years of peregrinations, settled in Durham in 1987, where she worked for Duke University Medical Center at various jobs, from research analyst in Alzheimer’s to managing editor of a journal. For 16 years she directed the poetry workshop for Duke’s OLLI program. She was one of ten Emerging Poets of the New South showcased at Vanderbilt’s Millennial Gathering of Writers. Her poetry has been published in two collections, Crossing Water and Fish Music, and in a scattering of journals and anthologies.