At the French Market
By Lee Meitzen Grue
We buy vegetables the colors of
coral and jade,
in the deep might of the man with
in the deep night of the late
We walk with hollow heels through
the damp shed,
the peppers incredibly
tomatoes lush as the fruits in dreams,
too ripe, too red,
I press their flesh, feel the skin
under my fingers.
The strawberries, too are large;
the size of three berries in one,
succulent as breasts, absurd as
presented in small latticed boxes.
I lift the boxes, view them from
where the berries are gray,
I pass on down the hall, roofed by
walled by night, and the wet
sounds of tires.
there is a heavyman with hot eyes
His berries are larger, cheaper;
I lift the boxes.
They are perfect bottom and top.
He sells me two boxes cheaper
but over there near the front is
fern, very green,
with a white stalk plaited into
itself like rope.
From down the black corridor you
return to say:
It is anise.
How do I cook it? I ask the man
with charred eyes.
Boil it, cook it in sauce, in
salad eat the leaves.
I go back to the wooden box,
lift out strands of green hair,
some of it is a faded blonde. It
I pick near the bottom for the
but the heavyman comes,
and lifts out green after green
until he fills my hands
with a stalk as thick as my braid
and he says:
Eat the leaves.
I pinch small tendrils and stuff
Lips nibbling green threads,
I am content feeding near large
Finally, he takes his eyes and
My head lifts high with this taste
Long ago, in our low bed,
we drank anisette,
and the sweet fire in our throats
melted our arms and legs
into a center which still cradles
this small fire we carry
away from here.
* * *
French Quarter Poems (1979) Long Measure Press