I understand the glorious alchemy
of salting slices of just picked raw eggplant
to draw up the bitter essence from the flesh
so that it may be rinsed away,
and it’s not hard at all for me to delight
in the mysteries of the scent
rising from the oven as the slices
are baked for inclusion in a dish
to be served late tonight to someone well loved.
I understand these things.
I feel the joy of service and making
when I turn to them from news of this world
that’s starving for such joy.
I don’t know how to approach those children
dead on beaches and in the streets;
how to speak to those among us so willing
to let freedom be wrung out of us,
can’t bear to lose the sweetness
being drawn from us daily;
I don’t know how to love a nation
so openly bent on hate and madness,
how to love and live in that world — but
I can ladle good fresh tomato sauce
onto the layers of eggplant and lay on
thick cheese; I can bake it and wait for it
to come into its glory; I can broil it briefly
until it bubbles, I can set it before a loved one
and say “here’s something”
with some small joy,
for here indeed is something,
made from food I grew to be good
and food I sought out to make it better;
this is a thing I can do
to make love visible
that is too often hidden.
It’s not enough,
but tonight it will have to do
to keep away despair,
to fill us up.