June 4, 2009

Jayne Pupek


The beautiful tuna had been cooked to dry dullness, and the bitter baby bok choy was alarmingly dissonant with the sauce.
—Patricia Greathouse, Santa Fe New Mexican, 4 August 2006

Our guests arrive early, catching us mid-quarrel.
You mix drinks, adding lime juice to tomato puree,
your twist on a Bloody Mary. Everyone raves,
ignoring your mismatched socks, forgiving
your five o'clock shadow. Cloistered in the kitchen,
I scorch the bok choy. The smell of it is bitter,
the edges, alarmingly black, match the dress
you refused to zip up my back.
I stare at the tuna steaks, darkening
on the grill. Fixated on this notion
of hatching and crosshatching, I keep
turning the meat. Zebra
stripes change into diamonds,
diamonds into fine obsidian.
Inside, the meat is pink tissue paper
and chalk. Flake, flake, I scrape away,
burnt skin, looking for the rarest parts.
On a square white plate,
the sliced fennel and radishes
make a perfect flower.
I offer these petals between each course
to cleanse our charred palettes.

—This poem first appeared in THE DIRTY NAPKIN, 2008


Jayne Pupek is the author of the novel, Tomato Girl and two books of poems, Forms of Intercession and The Livelihood of Crows.

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