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(After Neruda)

O vegetables in lapis bowl

so finely clothed in dinner dress

of seasoned oil, your crispy lobes

of green and gold suggest refrains

though still you seem too shy to speak.

I’ll give you voices: purple onion,

take this sax – its burred long

tones bring edge to match your bite;

carrots -- the sunset glow of cello

notes, plaited in warm

continuo. Cucumbral shade,

bright radish too, can have your say

with silver flutes whose light glissades

will punctuate the cool tossed mix.

Though fennel needs a subtler touch:

smoky and feathered at the top

descending through pearl mottled stalks

to sweet elusive anise crunch –

only massed French horns will do.

Roast beets take on vermilion tones

from oven heat, perhaps from growth

in loam -- wood xylophones

perhaps, or bongos syncopated

with a lagging salsa beat.

In salad can be found

a world: rhythms of root and bulb

and leaf, embraided in a single line,

preserved pre-glacial forage times.

That score has faded, yet a fragment

of its tune remains. From corners

of the room Neanderthals peer out,

while I, unheeding, dine.

Version first published in Falcons: New and Selected Poems by Michael H. Levin (Finishing Line Press, 2020)

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