Saturday, June 15, 2013

hungry for poetry

“On our earth, before writing was invented, before the printing press was invented, poetry flourished. That is why we know poetry is like bread; it should be shared by all, by scholars and by peasants, by all our vast, incredible, extraordinary family of humanity” 
~Pablo Neruda
In one crucial way, food differs from writing: food is temporary. It is exactly this fact, as many a writer will tell you, wherein the sublime pleasure of cooking really lies. After a long day of trying to be immortal, or at least get to the end of the blank page or screen—rather symbolically hitting SAVEthere is something satisfying in getting your hands dirty, in making something that has, necessarily, an obvious end point. With food, the better it is, the less it sticks around. (Except the way good food ‘sticks to your ribs’ in the parlance of where I come from.) Temporariness is one of food’s best qualities, making it something other than the chore that good writing can be. This is the opposite of good reading, in which the better it is the faster it flies. It is these fleeting yet everlasting pleasures that this anthology explores.”
~Kevin Young, Ed of 
The Hungry Ear, poems of food & drink”

To bring my trio of consecutive food posts back to the beginning, I have chosen a poem that takes me back to my Caribbean roots, and cleverly recalls one of my favorite beach treats... coco frío! 

From “The Hungry Ear,” a great anthology interweaving poetry, food and drink.

Coca-Cola and Coco Frío
 by Martín Espada

On his first visit to Puerto Rico,
island of family folklore,
the fat boy wandered
from table to table
with his mouth open.
At every table, some great-aunt
would steer him with cool spotted hands
to a glass of Coca-Cola.
One even sang to him, in all the English
she could remember, a Coca-Cola jingle
from the forties. He drank obediently, though
he was bored with this potion, familiar
from soda fountains in Brooklyn.

Then at a roadside stand off the beach, the fat boy
opened his mouth to coco frío, a coconut
chilled, then scalped by a machete
so that a straw could inhale the clear milk.
The boy tilted the green shell overhead
and drooled coconut milk down his chin;
suddenly, Puerto Rico was not Coca-Cola
or Brooklyn, and neither was he.

For years afterward, the boy marveled at an island
where the people drank Coca-Cola
and sang jingles from World War II
in a language they did not speak,
while so many coconuts in the trees
sagged heavy with milk, swollen
and unsuckled.