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Poetry Pause: Leeks

March 29, 2011

Leeks, by Abbot Cutler

Two sticks in drifted snow
mark the trench where I laid the leeks
in cool dirt in October.
Now I dig down through old
frozen crust to damp dark hay
to the thick grey green leaves
of the leeks and pull them
from the piled earth and
shake dirt from their white
hairy roots. They come up
like creatures from under
the ocean. In the half-cold,
half-light the odor of earth
gone all these long months
wraps around me, and it is as if
these leeks have come from
a world where there are great
pleasures of the body, where
the mind grows smaller, where
libraries mold in the dark,
where worms in purple and brown
rule the streets, and the corridors
of power are moist and rick
in a way that radio voices
can’t conceive of, and the talk
is of the thick trunk
of seasons, the nose
of rootedness, the eye
that works its way through,
hair that feels its way,
the skull that follows,
the toad of desire, the grub
of grief, the larva of longing,
the moon coming up and the quiet
at the end of February.

I pick up the pile of leeks
and carry them to the kitchen.
I wash them clean. I chop them
on the old board. I cook them
in oil and salt. I taste
their great sweetness. I remember
that the earth will hum into spring.

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