Sunday, May 16, 2010


Language was opening me up in ways I couldn’t explain and I assumed it was part of the apprenticeship of a poet. (Jimmy Santiago Baca, A Place to Stand)

c.1300, from O.Fr. aprentiz "someone learning" (13c.), from aprendre (Mod.Fr. apprendre ) "to learn, teach," contracted from L. apprehendere (see apprehend). Aphetic form prentice was long more usual in English. The verb is first attested 1630s. (


I learned how to be a cook by watching
and listening to those whose hands
were already calloused before
I ever picked up a kitchen knife.
Now I have calluses of my own.
I learned how to be a poet by reading
and listening to those whose hearts
were already broken open before
I ever chased down a metaphor.
Now I have a hunger for words.
I’m three weeks away from my last shift in
the kitchen and the calluses
are already fading, peeling off, though
I am still making dinner at home.
Cooking is in my blood.
I’m five days away from my last writing,
though my heart has been opened
up already, I have fallen private,
forgetting to write out loud for friends
who gather like dinner guests.
I teach for a living, though my calling
is to learn, to apprentice,
to soak up smells and sounds, words and wonders,
to come to table and tablet that
I might taste and see what is good.


Anne said...

lapping up the flavor of every word, love it Milton!

Unilove said...

Lovely. Quality.

zorra said...

Forgetting to write out loud for friends gathered like dinner guests. Me too. Excuses: I don't have time to cook...who will come to the table?

No matter, right? There's lots of food in the pantry and we still need to cook it. Thanks.