Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Thanksgiving Feast

painting by Larry Rivers
McNay Art Museum


Eating Together
by Li-Young Lee

In the steamer is the trout
seasoned with slivers of ginger,
two sprigs of green onion, and sesame oil.
We shall eat it with rice for lunch,
brothers, sister, my mother who will
taste the sweetest meat of the head,
holding it between her fingers
deftly, the way my father did
weeks ago. Then he lay down
to sleep like a snow-covered road
winding through pines older than him,
without any travelers, and lonely for no one.


from The Man Moves Earth
by Cathy Song

The man moves earth,
the woman sweeps air.
Together they pull water
out of the other,
pull with the muscular
ache of the living,
hauling from the deep
well of the body
the rain-swollen,
the flame-tipped,
the milk-fed—
all that cycles
through lives moving,
lives sweeping, water
circulating between them
like breath,
drawn out of leaves by light.


Pig Song
by Margaret Atwood

This is what you changed me to:
a greypink vegetable with slug
eyes, buttock
incarnate, spreading like a slow turnip,

a skin you stuff so you may feed
in your turn, a stinking wart
of flesh, a large tuber
of blood which munches
and bloats. Very well then. Meanwhile

I have the sky, which is only half
caged, I have my weed corners,
I keep myself busy, singing
my song of roots and noses,

my song of dung. Madame,
this song offends you, these grunts
which you find oppressively sexual,
mistaking simple greed for lust.

I am yours. If you feed me garbage,
I will sing a song of garbage.
This is a hymn.



by Paschal Murat Booker
after Antonio Machado

At night when I sleep
Singing, the illusion bends
As if the fountain swims
Between my hearts.
When I die, does the river flow,
Is water yesterday’s green dream run empty,
Or is new life
The rest of what you drink?

At night when I sleep
Singing, the illusion bends
As if the cold joins
Straight to my heart
And the sadness below
Is made from Ichiban
With the old ways
White and sweet and tempting.

At night when I sleep
Singing, the illusion bends
As if the sun’s ardent light
Pierces my heart.
When strength pretends to be
A heat red and hungry
A sun vanquished by shadow
And made fast by night.

At night when I sleep
Singing, the illusion bends
To gods who hold
The pain in my heart.


I Ask My Grandmother If We Can Make Lahmajoun
by Gregory Djanikian

Sure, she says, why not,
we buy the ground lamb from the market
we buy parsley, fresh tomatoes, garlic
we cut, press, dice, mix
make the yeasty dough
the night before, kneading it
until our knuckles feel the hardness
of river beds or rocks in the desert
we tell Tante Lola to come
with her rolling pins we tell
Zaven and Maroush, Hagop and Arpiné
to bring their baking sheets
we sprinkle the flour on the kitchen table
and it is snowing on Ararat
we sprinkle the flour and the memory
of winter is in our eyes
we roll the dough out
into small circles
pale moons over
every empty village
Kevork is standing on a chair
and singing
O my Armenian girl
my spirit longs to be nearer
Nevrig is warming the oven
and a dry desert breeze
is skimming over the rooftops
toward the sea
we are spreading the lahma
on the ajoun with our fingers
whispering into it the histories
of those who have none
we are baking them
under the heat of the sun
the dough crispening
so thin and delicate
you would swear
it is valuable parchment
we are taking out
and rolling up in our hands
and eating and tasting again
everything that has already
been written
into the body.

(a poem for Tina's Armenian Thanksgiving)


“I was passionate ...”
by Lal Ded (Lalla)

Translated by Jane Hirshfield

I was passionate,
filled with longing,
I searched
far and wide.

But the day
that the Truthful One
found me,
I was at home.

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Blogger San said...

Hey Paschal,

Bennie and I took turns reading these poems to each other at the gallery today. Thank you for a luscious, literary, post-Thanksgiving feast--a chaser to yesterday's denser delicacies. Sneaky the way Senor Booker's poem was sandwiched in there--languorous, bending the illusion, sleep singing.

Yesterday, as has been our Turkey Day tradition, we all read something after dinner. Flan happened to choose an Atwood piece. Not quite as graphic as "Pig Song" but earthy and hilarious nonetheless. Even my in-laws were laughing!

Tell Tina we are ready to make lahmajoun and await the arrival of the Truthful One.

9:10 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

San: Glad you all enjoyed the feast. I went hunting early in the day for poems: "Pig Song" squealed out for inclusion. The lahmajoun poem was a great find, as were all the rest.

Glad you and yours had a great day together; the reading aloud is a wonderful tradition.

Hope "Black" Friday was as black as it can get, short of opening at 4 AM like some of the fools around here.

Peace and joy this season.

11:57 PM  

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