Friday, October 14, 2011

Poetry Friday: Garlic

My mom is a superb gardener. So is my daughter. Me? I confess to having killed a rubber tree plant once. And many other varieties of green things many times over.


I bought this lovely herb planter. Walked it home in my arms from the farmer's market. Everything in it is still alive, except for the dill, which mysteriously shriveled overnight and has but one teeny leafy sprout left. I've used the basil and parsley. Admired the rosemary and marjoram and chives. And if when the nasturtiums bloom, I can even put flowers in my salads.

Why do I keep buying plants when I fear they are doomed? Because I cook. I need fresh herbs. And I'm too lazy to keep running to the store. And I like the shape the plants make as they curl down from the pot.

I'm also thinking of planting some garlic--- even more so since I found this terrific quote, which was pungent enough to inspire a poem:

"Garlic is as good as ten mothers." (from this site, no source)

Who needs admonishment
when you can plant
three or four squeaky
clean cloves of peeled
garlic between your back
molars and bite down, hard?

Who needs milk
when a steely press 
will pulp a half-moon
breast, flattening 
it to a papery empty

Who needs love
when hours later
your breath will cleave
the world into those
who don't mind your
stink and those who do?

Yet, in the ladle of my belly
I grew you, bulbous;
sulfurous juices thick 
inside your husk of skin,
til by your tender scapes, I seized you,
now a knotted rose. Ten times over 
I will crush your enemies.

                --- Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

Image courtesy of Fresh Off the Vine

Poetry Friday is hosted today by David Elzey at fomagrams.



    When I was a kid, my mother used to make us salsa with raw garlic, because it would stave off colds and once Mama made my older sister CHEW raw cloves because she'd somehow (eeek!) gotten worms.

    Geez, louise, garlic staved off just about everything with the stern strength of motherhood. My sister STILL chews it when she gets a cold (and woe to her wee boys - I see garlic in their future when their teeth get big enough), but I just -- no. I can barely deal with onions, much less garlic raw. I'm a wuss, and take garlic pills, and that's enough mothering for me.

    This whole post made me smile.

  2. I agree with Tanita--it's a wonderful poem!

    I also do the garlic tablets, I have a extreme dislike of heavily scented breath--especially my own. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and is reportedly good for your heart. Another example of how old folk wisdom was based on fact.

  3. such a wonder ode to "the stinking rose." my first experience with that expression came from a cookbook my mom used to decorate the kitchen walls (long story, tho i wished she used the books instead of decorating with them). later, it was used as the title of a documentary which i saw in a theatre where the director roasted garlic in toaster ovens in the auditorium so the place smelled more and more like garlic as we watched.

    anyway, best of luck growing garlic. i have a purple thumb myself and two attempts have failed me so far...

  4. Hah! Mommas and Garlic, well I never! Hahaha. Very apt - gritty, pungent, and with all the aromatic fragrance and taste of motherhood all wrapped in its scrapey-knotted feel. Love it!

  5. Wowza! Can you hear my thunderous applause? Love the pithiness of your poem; such a great paean to motherhood.

    Love your herb planter -- we have basil growing outside and its scent keeps the deer away. :)

    Good to know I'm not the only one with a black thumb. At least now I can blame the lack of sunlight, both indoors and out (because of our trees). Even our grass won't grow . . .

  6. I'd also hate to have to add up all the green things I've killed with my black thumb, even the ones I bought because their tags said, "Thrives on neglect." Latest: A beautiful gardenia. Sad.

    Thanks for posting your garlic poem!

  7. Three cheers for stinky garlic breath!

  8. Well, I'll never again smash my garlic without remembering "half- moon breast". Love your poem!

  9. I don't think I ever read a poem about garlic before! And that needed to change, since garlic is one of my very favorite things. This is wonderful.


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