Friday, December 9, 2011
Is It Worth It?
kneeling in the dirt, sweating,
competing with bugs and fungus
all for that basket of produce, whisked
straight to the garage freezer
or into a pantry jar
or a basement box of sand;
for the herbs hung to dry and then packed into jars.
Is it worth it?
Ask the cook come winter.
Ask while she prepares a crock
for a chicken to roast on a bed of herbs and vegetables.
Or don't ask.
Watch her smile as she opens the bag of frozen broccoli or brussel sprouts,
--the month and year of their "putting up"
Sharpie-written on the side.
Watch her close her eyes as she breathes
faintly scented thyme and basil.
She crumbles them over the vegetables,
her hands graced already with the scent of garlic,
cut from a braid she wove
Ask her what she sees
with her eyes so closed and she'll tell you:
she remembers the bees,
there in the basil blossoms and the little lemon balm flowers.
The ones she let bloom away
--though the herb leaf grew less sweet for their blooming,
as she knew it would--
for she'd dried enough to fill a winter,
and she knew all creatures have some work to do
With the sweeter things of life.
She whispers this as she stirs a wooden paddle
round and round in the crock.
Then the chicken will go on top,
and she will turn to other things;
but if you are listening.
You'll know your question's answer.