After Ellen Bass’ Sous-Chef

I like waking to the coming night’s
menu, to stroll Whole Foods, 
palm pears red & firm as hearts.
Then gather graceful butternut squash,
their swanned swooped flesh
like the necks of Modigliani’s women. 
No one need tell me how to simmer
that cubed fruit with apples, onions, & curry,
blend then reheat with milk of coconut, 
fill warmed white bowls, snake oily pesto
over sunrise yellow soup.
I know fulfillment in my bones when 
I peel the skin from trout smoked
with thyme branches, witness guests
spreading fish pate like gratitude
on dark rye bittered with horseradish. 
I do love it, love, when you wrestle
chicken to spatchcock, grease yourself 
with fowl fat while I smooth our table
runner, towel glasses to tinkling splendor.
I love slicing the pomegranate’s navel,
midwife ruby seed from pocked pith,
scatter their glisten on baby butter 
lettuce laid with half-moons of orange.
I, too, have made bad decisions, 
more than once pulled the sheet
over my wracked and weeping body. 
But here I know mastery. My reign.

About the author:

VA Smith is a retired teaching professor of English at Penn State and founder of Chancellor Writing Services. She’s dropped poetry into dozens of literary journals and anthologies, among them: Blue Lake Review, Southern Review, Gyroscope Review and Oyster River Pages. Kelsay Books published her first poetry collection, Biking Through the Stone Age, in May 2022. Her second collection, American Daughters, also published by Kelsay, will appear in January 2023. She is at work on a third collection titled Elsewhere, walking and biking, serving as a home chef/caterer, and loving on her friends, family, and dog.

Feature image by Gabriele bartoletti stella on Unsplash