really when i cook, i cannot concentrate on anything

i cut onions –in my underwear
cause it is freakin’ hot

“could be an ad for H&M here” says my daughter
“ha– not quite”

we’re side by side
“wanna slice the mango?”
it’s good to have her back for a few weeks

Basquiat in an interview once said
he is afraid the paint comes off one day
cause there are layers upon layers upon layers
in each pic–

“underneath that chicken is a head”
just an example but

i get that
boldly un-transparent
and we only guess

how story after story re-emerges from the depth
&if you put them in a row
like students in a line in the canteen,
carrying a dinner tray piled mountain-high
with what you cannot see

“fresh mint, lime, cilantro–” she reads
&i put black pepper seeds in a granite mortar

“how’s it that black can have so many shades?”

she tells me about her day
about what’s going on at university

“a bit of jeera to–”
“hmmm– that smells good”


the kitchen is too small
to hold the seeds,
the scents,
the way her lips loop sky-ward
when she talks

&all the things that grow way/
Way beyond



19 responses to “really when i cook, i cannot concentrate on anything

  1. I adore this poem Claudia. I can just see you cooking with your daughter as all those stories, past and future, gather in your mind. You have so many beautiful lines here, so much depth. As always, I love how your creative mind works. Enjoy your daughter’s visit!

  2. In some way, I will glad when the paint comes off a bit and we can see underneath. Its a scary prospect because that is back to use being naked and transparent which is not always pretty, but there is a purity to it. Love the intimacy of the moment as well with your daughter. I know it is special to have her back for even just a bit and you are happy in it, which makes me happy.

  3. As often with your poetry, i like that you share an intimate home moment with us – you could not invent the cutting of onions in your underwear. I also enjoyed how you infused your poem with tastes and smells.

  4. Oh dear Jesus; how can I read past this:

    “i cut onions –in my underwear
    cause it is freakin’ hot”

    This CRACKS ME UP, girl. I can’t help but picturing the onion, literally in your underwear, with you chopping it by slamming your thighs together. I am SO messed up. But really now, that image is completely your fault. 🙂 And yes, it does sound “hot,” in a totally twisted way.

    In all seriousness, I really love this section:


    the kitchen is too small
    to hold the seeds,
    the scents,
    the way her lips loop sky-ward
    when she talks”

  5. I enjoyed the ending especially & thinking that all things grow so very far beyond imagination; and that no kitchen can possibly contain them! So nice that your daughter is home for a time…..

  6. Really, really loved this, Claudia. When we are so absorbed in something like cooking, painting, writing, it is such a Zen experience. For me, today, it was pulling weeds. I liked your reference to Basquiat–and I noticed his influence in one of your paintings I recently liked on Facebook. Such an interesting character–I would like to know more about him since he came from my neck of the woods.

  7. A lot of sweating, tasting, sniffing, chopping, chatting and loving going on in that kitchen…no wonder it can’t contain your artistic imagination! Thanks for painting a layered word picture for us that plucks at heart strings 🙂

  8. Oh, I love cooking side by side with someone and chatting… sadly, don’t often have this opportunity except with friends. A charming family portrait here, appealing to all the senses…

  9. Claudia, you paint so vividly with your words. I smile every time I read one of your poems. The delight in finding a new way to think or say something. I’ve often wondered how black can have so many shades–in painting and in life 😉

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