"sous-chef" by ellen bass

I like cutting the cucumber, the knife slicing the darkness
into almost-transparent moons, each
with its own thin rim of night. I like smashing
the garlic with the flat of steel
and peeling the sticky, papery skin from the clove.
Tell me what to do. I’m free of will.
I carve the lamb into one-inch cubes.
I don’t use a ruler, but I’d be happy to.
Give me a tomato bright as a parrot.
Give me peaches like burning clouds.
I’ll pare those globes until dawn. The syrup
will linger on my fingers like your scent.
Let me escape my own insistence.
I am the bee feeding the queen.
Show me how you want
the tart glazed. I still have opinions,
but I don’t believe in them.
Let me fillet the supple bones from the fish.
Let me pit the cherries. Husk the corn.
You say how much cinnamon
to spice the stew. I’ve made bad decisions,
so I’m grateful for this yoke
lowered onto my shoulders, potatoes
mounded before me.
With all that’s destroyed, look
how the world still yields a golden pear.
Freckled and floral, a shimmering marvel.
It rests in my palm so heavily, perfectly.
Somewhere there is hunger. Somewhere, fear.
But here the chopping block is solid. My blade sharp.

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