Friday, April 17, 2009

There should be more such odes . . .

Ode to Pepper Vinegar
by Kevin Young

You sat in the tomb

of our family fridge
for years, without

fail. You were all

I wanted covering
my greens, satisfaction

I’ve since sought

for years in restaurants
which claimed soul, but neither

knew you nor

your vinegar prayer.
Baby brother

of bitterness, soothsayer,

you taught
me the difference between loss

& holding on. Next to the neon

of the maraschino cherries,
you floated & stayed

constant as a flame

on an unknown soldier’s grave—
I never did know

how you got here

you just were. Adrift
in your mason jar

you were a briny bit of where

we came from, rusty lid
awaiting our touch

& tongue—you were faith

in the everyday, not rare
as the sugarcane

my grandparents sent north

come Christmas, drained
sweet & dry, delicious, gone

by New Year's—

no, you were nearer,
familiar, the thump

thump of an upright bass

or the brass
of a funeral band

bringing us home.

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