Friday, October 22, 2010

Foodstuff Friday: The Lemon. Plus a luftpoem.

The subject for this, our third Foodstuff Friday, is lemons.

While not a foodstuff like genoise (Foodstuff Friday #1) or chocolate pudding (Foodstuff Friday #2), both of which are end products of bounty, the latter being sugar, eggs, milk, flour, cocoa & co., lemons are more an essence. A promise and possibility.

The last house my family lived in (for a total of four—that's not so bad) had a bright and shiny lemon tree in the tiny backyard.

I know you've smelled a lemon but have you smelled a lemon tree? Imagine jasmine as a citrus. Imagine hot Los Angeles summer air as carrier.

The lemon tree enables lemon meringue pie. Lemon meringue pie enables civilization; invention is the mother of whipping egg whites. (Gently spoon them over the lemon custard and salute.) (Please refer to the index in The Joy of Cooking for recipes; that book was my mom's other Bible.)

The tree grew and bloomed outside my bedroom window, and though this was the room that knew the smoke of Marlboros and Shermans, of marijuana and incense (punk is what my father called it) it was first the room of lemon blossom. (By the way, my mom crashed in once or twice waving a magazine and complaining about the aroma, but I'm the youngest of four and nothing was specified. It was smoke from my fifty cent a pack Marlboros or sweet Shermans.)

Every so often my non-sports-loving dad would set down his vodka and snap a lemon off a branch. While blue jays dive-bombed the cat, he and I would toss a lemon back and forth until we didn't.

One afternoon, while in the library at grad. school on the other side of the country, I opened a book of poetry--I have no idea which poet--and the following poem flew out. I saw it, a luftpoem, lift off from a page and land in my spiral. I told this to a poetry "craft" teacher who was made nervous. Certainly no journal's wanted it. Who cares. I like it, so there.

This Flew From a Book

I’m in a room, looking out a screen,
dense netted sagging,
and I wonder how far can I go
seated in a room and looking out?

Was gonna write of the smell of lemons,
the white blossom smell, citrus citrus
floating on in from outside,
zest of thick-skinned lemons,
tugging a shiny green branch
so I admire plenty, and me pressing
my finger against the old screen
(like pressing a finger on anything
gets me more than a row of zeroes or

Once I rotated my finger clockwise
against my third eye
to stimulate
sight and flight
and wouldn’t you know it,
became a sleek missile,
caramba! in space,
in mystic majestic inky black
space, a jet in the sky,
in the dark and sparkly,
and then a blaze to behold
to amaze. As if all I ever wanted
were this: to be a light, to fly
with a lemon branch in my hand.
by Sarah Sarai (c. 1996)

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