This week, we’re featuring poems about food and all the many ways it sustains us. Because food is community and memory. It’s struggle, joy, and so much more.
by Elizabeth Alexander
My mother loves butter more than I do, more than anyone. She pulls chunks off the stick and eats it plain, explaining cream spun around into butter! Growing up we ate turkey cutlets sauteed in lemon and butter, butter and cheese on green noodles, butter melting in small pools in the hearts of Yorkshire puddings, butter better than gravy staining white rice yellow, butter glazing corn in slipping squares, butter the lava in white volcanoes of hominy grits, butter softening in a white bowl to be creamed with white sugar, butter disappearing into whipped sweet potatoes, with pineapple, butter melted and curdy to pour over pancakes, butter licked off the plate with warm Alaga syrup. When I picture the good old days I am grinning greasy with my brother, having watched the tiger chase his tail and turn to butter. We are Mumbo and Jumbo’s children despite historical revision, despite our parent’s efforts, glowing from the inside out, one hundred megawatts of butter.
"Butter" by Elizabeth Alexander, from CRAVE RADIANCE by Elizabeth Alexander, copyright © 2012 Elizabeth Alexander. Used by permission of Graywolf Press.