Barbara Crooker

Fifteen Bean Soup

I want to thank this pot for its art
of containment, the stove for its gentle
heat. Thank you to the beans, all fifteen
of you, for your transformation from stony
pebbles into nuggets of deliciousness, regaining
your original forms: large & small limas, lentils,
navy beans, pintos, yellow-eyed beans, red & white
kidneys, black beans, garbanzos, cranberry beans,
small white & pink beans, green & yellow split peas.
And thank you to the onions, for your bite and snap;
tomatoes, chili powder, garlic, lemon juice—what
you add is undetectable, but if you’re omitted,
all is lost. A word of applause, gnarly ham hocks,
for coming apart in the bubble and boil,
for lending your parts for the good of the whole.
And thank you, thank you, stoneware bowls—
without your help, this dinner wouldn’t be possible.
Have I forgotten anyone? The farmer who sowed
the crops, the rancher who raised the pigs, the grocery
store that carried their wares. Finally—and yes, I hear
the orchestra music, know my time is coming to a close—
let me thank the housewife, lost in history, who figured
out this recipe, the proportions, who added in the harmony,
the way the notes combined, the blend, the music, the mastery.

Barbara Crooker is the author of nine books of poetry, most recently, Some Glad Morning (Pitt Poetry Series, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019). Her work has appeared in many anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature; Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania; The Poetry of Presence and Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse.



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