The Poet as Eighty-Year-Old Sous-Chef

What better way to spend my time now than to play
the sous-chef as my dear wife prepares this very day
yet another of her heavenly meals? Cinnamon yellow
squash soup with hints of fresh mint, a melting mellow
eggplant Parmigian’, chicken a la Francaise,
crumb apple pie. Ah, lucky me, to have been chosen
to dice the scallions and onions, peel the potatoes,
gather from our little garden parsley, basil and some thyme,
then back inside to uncork a bottle of three-star wine.

Oh, to put aside the books that keep staring up at me
clamoring to be read: a fresh translation of the Odyssey,
Dante’s Convivio, Flannery, Chesterton, and Joyce,
as well as a dozen poets, each with his or her distinctive voice
but who too often now remain unsung. And that piles of books,
each clamoring to be blurbed and praised, as by the looks
of it they no doubt deserve. But oh, that freedom just…to be.
But be what? And now it’s half past five and she’s calling up to me.
Time, dear, she sings, to be the sous chef you were called to be.

From All That Will Be New (Slant Books, 2022) by Paul Mariani. Copyright © 2022 by Paul Mariani. Used with the permission of the author.