POEM LV: “APPLEWOOD BACON”

Apple
burns different from
oak
burns different from
poplar
burns different from
hickory.

There are people who say they can tell between the air of burning fruitwoods,
can taste the difference in meats cured in their smoke.

And it’s true that smoke depends
on what’s being burnt,
–you wouldn’t want to put a piece of pine into your stove,
not unless chimney fires and creosote
are your idea of a good time–
but the primary appeal
of applewood bacon
is its name. Round and red,
plump and juicy,
autumn in a single phrase.

No one markets pearwood bacon
(though odds are it’d be as sweet)
because pork and pears do not sit cozy together
in the imagination.

But cast your mind back,
to those burnished still lifes from the past
where a brace of dead rabbits,
ankles daintily exposed by a yanked-back jacket of fur,
hang with a decorative string of figs
over the muzzle of the gun that shot them.

Or the ones where fish and oranges share a single platter.

Think about peacocks, reassembled over a bed of quinces,
ducks in a cascade of winegrapes,
all the many combinations of fruit and flesh.

Now ask yourself:
Doesn’t applewood bacon sound good right about now?

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