Poetry Contest Winners: The Love of Food

Our harvest dries for sweet and savory recipes.
Dear Reader, we’re drying lavender bundles for my culinary fancy. This means it’s time to announce the first, second, and third place winners of the Second Annual Yule Love It Lavender Farm & Letters Poetry Contest.
My thanks to all who took the leap of faith and submitted poetry about “The Love of Food.” And my gratitude to Linda Nemec Foster of Grand Rapids for judging the entries.
I think it remarkable how she chose three poems that speak the love language of food—the inseparable bond between our nourishment, family, and friends. Please, enjoy the feast!

Fist Place:

La Mia Fame – my hunger

the wine tastes of sweet oak, a flock of starlings
their sudden rush of wings in my mouth lifting
me weightless like notes from a bamboo flute—

and the bouquet, boysenberry, spiced plum,
the first swallow a rich mouthfeel, currants
and dark chocolate doing a tango on my tongue
making me want to gulp not sip—

the insalada’s wild greens peppered with garbanzos
from the other side of the world where
my grandmother once crushed them into falafel
and humus dreaming of America—

there is a language to this meal, chicken Piccata
garnished with capers and artichokes, awash
In white wine brodo, the candle flame reflecting

on my water goblet the way it did that Bermuda night
when we ate Carpaccio and lobster on the patio,
wind ruffling my hair, cooling our sun burnt skin—

now, the sunset melts down our window
like icing, and something floats inside me
carrying a fullness there is no word for.

By Carol Was, Plymouth, MI

Second Place:

Six O’clock
What you show me in the kitchen
is magic.

Fed from wooden spoons,
every meal made

from your great-grandmother’s cast iron,
imbued with years

of secrets
whispered down generations

along with seeds passed
from palm to palm.

Listen, she said, to the snap of peas,
the hush of basil,

the singing of rosemary.
What others can’t combine,

and see only individuals,
you make whole,

create something
other –

a bite puckers cheeks,
licks lips, and spices no longer

need names.
Because what needs a name

when it gives back memories?
If tastes could be spoken, it would sound

like a sigh,
and that sigh would be

every dish
you made me.

By Ashley Huntley, Washington, MI

Third Place:

Dried Lemons

“In a net,” she says. But they’re loose for 69 cents.
Four bags ride home, stuff our crisper bins.

We stir buckets of lemonade, pucker,
add granular sugar. Tongues play with pulp sacs,
firm as grapes. She mixes in raspberries, ginger ale.

She paints. Lemon halves, stars showing, dried,
she stamps, purple, pink, yellow, patterns ringed
by thick circles, like embryo nebulas. Raucous
forms cavort on a celestial canvas.

Cinnamon hair glistens by daybreak sun.
Fingers dappled with color, she cresses
a stained china mug, sips blackberry tea.
Her dimples lively, she taps my hand.

The phone rings, Kagen arrives from Ireland
on the one-fifteen. She bites her thin lip, as she does,
says, “It’s not about you,” sprints away,
first love eclipsing weathered bond.

Weeks later, her key lays on the counter
like spare change. Space, disarray in the left-over house.

Lemon hulls, crusted in paint, wither by the window.
In the crisper, brown spots on puckered yellow skins
join like the freckle glaze adorning her nose.

At her unfinished canvas, under hazy daylight,
I dip newly dried fruit in mauve, fog, ash, charcoal.
Chisel radishes and stamp them with white.
Arms ache, fingers search, lost in ethereal dreams.

The art hovers outside my bedroom door. I pass
our creation, follow her eyes, ablaze behind the stars.

By Christian Belz, Berkley, MI