No 12 - Autumn 2007
The purest expression of your love was in your cooking aubergines.
You called them brinjals, after the Indian fashion, sometimes eggplants.
You hated the bitterness you were more sensitive to than I was,
you thought a violet-black face could only bring gall.
In Sanskrit it was vatin-gana, the plant that cured the wind.
When cooked incorrectly, it could be bitter, odd-textured, herald of wind.
You made sure my aubergines were perfect. You didn’t panic
when the spongelike flesh drank hissing sunflower oil.
The Arabs knew it as al-badinjan. In Marrakesh,
I had aubergines roasted over a charcoal fire, lightly salted.
You stuck to fried fish, washing it down with sweet mint tea.
We crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, where the fruit became alberengena
and then aubergine. We once dined at Aubergine, in London,
before Gordon Ramsay moved to the Royal Hospital Road,
where he promptly installed a carpet darker than royal purple.
To the east, badinjan became melongena, melanzana, mela insana.
I was your mad apple. The Portuguese called it bringella,
and when they landed in Goa their guns brought a word
puréed through innumerable monsoons in the Andaman Sea to you.
In the West Indies, it became, differently, the brown-jolly.
Once the oil hit a fiercely crackling heat, the aubergine’s brave
structure collapsed and much of the oil was re-released.
We lease our spirits from our languages. All these names for the same fruit:
the same bulbous expression of energy, pushed through roots
and leaves and stems to still and concentrate as goodness and evil,
shiny and soft. I call them aubergines. You call them brinjals.
- 10th Muse
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- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
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- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
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- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
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- Yellow Crane, The