Nebraska Center for Writers

The INVENTION OF CUISINE
by CAROL MUSKE

Imagine for a moment
the still life of our meals,
meat followed by yellow cheese,
grapes pale against the blue armor of fish.
Imagine a thin woman
before bread was invented,
playing a harp of wheat in the field.
There is a stone, and behind her
the bones of the last killed,
the black bird on her shoulder
that a century later
will fly with murderous and trained intent.
They are not very hungry
because cuisine has not yet been invented.
Nor has falconry,
nor the science of imagination.
All they have is the pure impulse to eat,
which is not enough to keep them alive
and this little moment
before the woman redeems
the sprouted seeds at her feet
and gathers the olives falling from the trees
for her recipes.
Imagine. Out in the fields
this very moment
they are rolling the apples to press,
the lamb turns in a regular aura of smoke.
See, the woman looks behind her
before picking up the stone,
looks back once at the beasts,
the trees,
that sky
above the white stream
where small creatures live and die
looking upon each other
as food.

Reprinted with permission
from An Octave Above Thunder
Copyright © 1998
by Carol Muske
Penguin


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