Monday, 5 August 2013

Ode to Garlic

Oh Garlic, what homage
can we bring you
and your graced state
of bulbousness?
Packed tightly into
your little white dome
we want to break you open
and spread your cloves like
shining white pebbles onto
the shores of our meals.

Oh, Allium Sativum,
brother of Onion, Leek,
Chive and Shallot,
you turn my mouth
into a warm hearth.
You who have grown
rich and full in
the dark soil of the earth.
Proud should the lily be
that you are part of her family.
When we peel you
your skin breaks into
the fine wings of a white butterfly,
flitting and refusing to be taken hold of.
When we crush, bake and chew you
you suffuse the walls, 
our skin, tongues and throats
with you pungency.

Your strength does not
lie in size or weaponry;
it lies in the way you smell of the sea,
of the suurbossies on the dunes
of the dark moist corners of the Tsitsikamma
and of soft, curled-up young ferns.

I grow impassioned with
the spirit of you.
With your unavoidable presence
no long-fanged demons
will walk through my doors.
If the Egyptians invocated you 
at the ceremony of taking oaths
and the Greeks piled you onto cairns of stones 
at the crossroads for an offering to Hecate,
then I can take a hold of you,
smear you on my forehead and temples
and beseech the poetry of you
to land upon my tongue. 

As much as you try
you will never be
insipid, tasteless,
dull, boring or bland -
you hold too much excitement
and urging energy of restless underground wells.

I go to the market,
enticed by onions, potatoes,
ginger, squash,
coriander and mushrooms,
yet I am never satisfied
until you lie with your orbicular lightness
in my basket.
Stuffed in olives,
crushed onto pizzas
grilled with prawns
sliced into pickles
blended with pesto
concocted with green beans
mixed into hummus
brewed in soups
fused with pasta
alchemized with butter
united with olive oil - 
you are herb and spice,
fruit and vegetable,
fire and lily,
gold and silver!

Hail the garlic crushers
for theirs is a divine deed.
Releasing the bulb’s bitter-sweet juices to all of the world
might just dismantle all arrogance,
melt all iciness 
break down all pretense. 

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