Go to your kitchen pantry, garden, refrigerator, or spice rack. Pick an herb, spice, fruit, or vegetable. Take it to your writing space. Smell it, feel it, observe it, taste it. Does it come in multiple forms: powdered, sliced, dried, pickled? What sensations does it arouse? What memories does it bring?
Now, write for thirty minutes or more, don’t stop –Don’t think, just write. Reread what you’ve written. Find the connections, the heat, the moments where language lifts, where it sings, and sculpt this into a poem.
If you like, post your results as a comment; we would love to see what people come up with.
Here is a Poem by Aimee Nezhukumatathil from her book Miracle Fruit (Tupelo Press, 2003) to inspire you.
If your man doesn’t know cumin
from cardamom, it’s time to let him go.
but if he discovers a wetted paintbrush dipped
into turmeric makes a soft yellow line
on your back, spells something like You
are my sun—then keep him and hold on tight.
I like a cupboard packed with jam jars rubbed clean,
full of the sand from fantasy beaches of me
and my man and a paintbrush I conjured up
just last night—a cupboard where the difference in reds
means danger or victory for my pot of stew.
And what about cloves pierced
into a fat orange, strung up with ribbon
at Christmas? What came up with that,
and what kind of twisted need did they have
for the occasional prick of spikes under
nails? One, we were leaving
Bombay Palace, my father spooned
caraway and licorice bits into my palm
from the jade bowl on the counter and said,
“This will clean your breath.” The owner
twitched his moustache, and nodded.
Pepper is the obvious choice, in its powder form,
I mean—but there’s something about the crash
of peppercorns into a salad, over pasta, the twist
and flex of wrist that sends men back for more.
But if you really want to impress, try chili flaked fresh
under a rolling pin and wax paper. Make sure he sees
you doing this labor of love—act as if you do this
at every meal, that is how it would be every day
if he desired. And after dinner, float some
in his tea, slip some into his slice of cake.
Be careful for the warmth of his mouth.