Rasp, Spoon, and Pestle

There were lemons growing old in a clay bowl,
A dozen injured pots that wobbled on the stove,
White countertops with stains like continents

Mamá hid with doilies and patches of an old stole.
A small cabinet stowed vials and jars, her trove
Of ground spices, dry herbs, heirloom condiments

To enchant croquettes, hors d’oeuvres, fillets of sole
Biscay style. With rasp, spoon, and pestle, she strove
To please Papá who scorned those recherché scents

Of haute cuisine, so she fricasseed oxtail in a soul-
Ful red sauce, boiled ham hocks, cooked tripe with cloves
Of garlic—simple, brawny, no buttery ornaments

To rouse his anger; but on Sundays she’d cajole
Papá with sautés, gratins, and soufflés that drove
Him to beg for seconds, thirds, his taste buds in ferment.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ricardo Menes. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Winter 2019.