In China they eat them before
breakfast, in Sweden
before making love. Men say
their petals feel as soft
as a woman’s flanks
just after bathing. Parisian
women insist that if you taste
just one, you’ll hunger
after them forever.
In Japan, they eat the first
of the year pickled; in India
they fry them with cardamom,
cumin and garam masala. Native
Americans gave papooses
their apples to suck upon,
while the Inuit ate them frozen
straight from the sled.
To try one yourself, pick one
from your neighbor’s garden.
Like everything else
they taste better stolen. Eat under cover
of darkness or with a secret friend.
As with an artichoke, work your way
from outer skin to inner heart.
Marinate the petals in nectar,
thieved also, served in a silver bowl.
When you approach the center of each
delectable flower, bite hard. Taste
tiny gold stamens between
your teeth and your tongue. Inside
your belly one kernel
of silk will grow. Whenever
you make love, you will feel it—wild
red pulse, passionate flower,
unravel, blossom, then bud.
—Doris Lynch (Monroe County)
This poem is from Praising Invisible Birds (Finishing Line Press, 2008)
Doris Lynch has published poems in many literary magazines and anthologies and has won four individual artist’s grants from the Indiana Arts Commission. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook Praising Invisible Birds. Currently, she’s intrigued by writing haibun, a Japanese form that combines prose and haiku.
Poetry Prompt: How to Eat Something
Choose a particular dish or ingredient that fascinates you and write a how-to poem. You might include a description of the food’s universal appeal as this poem does or a description of its significance to your personal history, family history, or hometown. Allow imaginative details to fuse with literal directions in such a way that the meaning of the poem expands.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.