The poem acts in a way as food put by. It acts as a container for memory whose fragrances unroll at the touch of sensitive mind. Or so I believe after reading, Minnie Bruce Pratt’s poem which gives the title to the collection The Sound of One Fork. With obvious echoes of the Buddhist koan, the poetic voice contemplates the woman next door who eats alone but “She does not hurry, she does not linger.” And it is this balance that is carried over into the next stanza and its theme of aloneness and community. See:
Her younger neighbors think that she is lonely,
that only death keeps her company at meals.
But I know what sufficiency she may possess.
I know what can be gathered from year to year,
gathered from what is near to hand, as I do
elderberries that bend in damp thickets by the road,
gathered and preserved, jars and jars shining
in rows of claret red, made at times with help,
a friend or a lover, but consumed long after,
long after they are gone and I sit
alone at the kitchen table.
What I found remarkable in these lines is the subtle repetition of “I know” and “gathered” and how the knowing is followed by the gathering — in the ordered way of the poem towards the voicing of greater physicality — and then the proof of the “jars and jars shining”. The poem doesn’t end here with the figure of the sitter alone at the kitchen table. It could but it doesn’t. Just as death could be the only companion but isn’t.
And so for day 706