Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe: Where the poem comes from: Marion Brown

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

Where the poem comes from: Marion Brown

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I realize that, despite the name of my blog, I haven’t posted an “occasional recipe” in quite a while.  But today I offer a poem about food. It’s from Marion Brown’s new chapbook called “tasted.” The book’s cover shows an apple that’s been devoured down to the core and the book is filled with poems with titles like “Self-Portrait as Red Delicious” and “Eating with Fingers.” One, “Turns in the Kitchen,” is written in two stanzas: his, in which the “he” is meticulously following recipes in “the cooking torah” while in the “hers” stanza, the cook is improvising wildly and with gusto.

Marion, whom I know through my friend Carol, is a lifelong New Yorker who comes from a family of cooks and is a former Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener. Her poems and reviews have appeared in Barrow Street, Big City Lit, Kestrel, Poetry International, and DIAGRAM, among others.  Her poem “In the Dock Fagin Reflects” recently won first prize from the Portico Library
in Manchester, England.

“Stone Fruit,” a poem from her chapbook, came about this way, she explains:

“On Poem-A-Day, the daily email from the Academy of American Poets, I came upon John Taggart’s “Magdalene Poem.” Its repetitions and elliptical diction, leaving much more unsaid than said, seduced me. Repeating words or phrases are powerful; I don’t use them enough. “Magdalene Poem” made me want to read more Taggart and also to write a poem, a poem with short lines and echoes though no religious context. 

“The day before, I had crossed the country from my home on the East Coast to visit my daughter in Seattle. After she went off to work, I took myself to Café Vitta, one of her favorite coffee shops, and composed a first draft of “Stone-Fruit” on my iPhone. It is the only complete draft I have written on my phone, a terse poem with short lines.  Afterwards, rewritten on my computer, “Stone-Fruit” grew taller and gained a hyphen. Without it, the two words of the title would mean fruit carved from stone, not peaches, apricots, and their kin.”


Have you seen an apricot
hang on its twig, bound
to blush 
in sunshine, hard 
under golden skin—
blush like remorse, chagrin
or flush of passion—

passion the current
that roils a stream
current that takes you
drags under to drown you

Unhinged, an apricot
and wrinkles,
tongued by time
where it lies on the ground,

in the air
a sharp twinge
when it opens, unasked, 

stone still closed,
a nub like a wrist 
bone stretching 
the skin— 
loose on the ground.

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