(in herbivorous homage to Victorian erotica)
Ardent herb of Aphrodite!
Verdant spire of Kama Sutran lore!
Pubescent vernal shoots
feted in the cookbook of ancient Apicius
praised as medicament by the great physician Galen
chronicled as offering to Egyptian gods of old.
Best harvested in your puerility
your delicate tips, points d’amour
a favorite of the king’s courtesan.
Best quickly cooked
swiftly stir-fried in sesame oil
roasted posthaste in extra-virgin nectar of the olive
sautéed in brown butter
you are the bonne bouche of spring.
But take heed!
Hearken to your griddle!
Let not your tender buds linger overlong in the flame
lest they too quickly achieve their climacteric
and wither, wilted and wan.
Still, think not this comestible unduly ephemeral!
For this fleeting and fragile culinary pleasure
leaves a fragrant souvenir
a peculiar perfume
lingering, ambrosial and pungent
in the trickling stream.
O broccolo, flowering crest of cabbage
noble staple of the Roman Empire.
O beautiful bouquet of bounteous blossoms yet unbloomed
tightly held in myriad miniature fists of malachite hue.
Bejeweled floret of jadeite!
How proudly perch the clustered buds of verdigris
atop your tumid pedicle.
Yet, stripped of your callous bark
you reveal a tender heart
aching to be julienned
thirsting for anointment with oil
and the baptism of steam.
With heat’s mellifluous influence
your tiny branches effloresce
into supple jewels of glimmering emerald.
Delicate virgin buds burst in my mouth
gushing their claret of savory green.
O cruciferous topiary
let me be lost in your peppery coppice!
Fruit of fungus
feigner of fauna
fusion of puck and protoplasm.
Of all flora,
most akin to flesh
as at birth, when your egg-like primordium bursts through the universal veil.
Here is the naming of your parts:
Need more be said?
Award-winning songwriter Bett Butler (International Songwriting Competition, Independent Music Awards) celebrates the sensuality of simple food and pokes at the affectations of haute cuisine with poetic satire. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Weave, Feathertale, Amp, Voices de la Luna, Ginosko, The Field Guide, and other small-press publications in the U.S. and Canada. Co-owner of Mandala Music Production in culturally- and culinarily-rich San Antonio, Texas, she and her spouse produce music and spoken word licensed for HBO, Discovery Channel, and more. Her website is www.bettbutler.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @bettbutler.
This poem was previously published in Canada’s Feathertale Review, Issue 22, December 2018.