On Learning

          after Philip Levine and Barbara Kingsolver

by Alexis Draut


Some things
you know all your life, and some
you learn with time. At 23, I learn
potatoes can be purple and red and
smaller than a fist and grow deep
below their leaves. Sweating on a farm
for an entire harvest will teach you this.
I learn to sneak a few into my cooler,
take them home and look up recipes for
purple potatoes the size of an ice cube:
slice into quarters, cover with olive oil,
butter and garlic, cook for 30 minutes, flip
in between. Digging them up was my first
act of betrayal, making a meal out of them
was their last sacrifice, Georgia clay
in between wrinkles.
Some things
you know all your life,
engrained into your childhood brain,
planted there among mathematics and
telling time. Others you must pluck like
potatoes the color of bruises, bear the
burden of their weight, cure them with butter
and a knife’s edge, carry them with grace
to the table.

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