basil for breakfast

Chris W replied to my email this morning, saying,

"i have cooking metaphors coming to me. i think i'll write a poem:

isn't every cook
a culture of her own,
how she knows mushrooms,
how she knows salt,

the lifelong gathering
of living ingredients, each one
its own astounding self, each one
a culture of its own, yet
in her hands
an ingredient

(ingredient is not a beautiful word
until i decide to make it so
by imagining a sprig of seven basil leaves
in your hands)

the other day i met someone
who cooked with many of my ingredients
in a completely different way
because her living had taught her stories
about what comes before and what comes after
the time of cooking, stories
i had not lived or seen or been taught before

and i let myself be a dry sponge
in the curious clear waters of her ways
and, delight of delights,
she experienced me the same way:
(wow, yes, look what you do, look how:
a way that no one ever taught you, your own
accumulation of ways, so precise to yourself)
so we're bartering mentoring time
hanging out in one another's kitchens
not a moment too soon, as we are called
to do our thing at the big ceremonial feast
whose wild glow is visible in the night sky
over the next small ridge"