Begin with oil of olives
glistening in the well of silver
pot licked by yellow flames.
After slicing smooth tan skin
from a thumb of ginger root,
sliver the rhizome, then crush
with the knife’s handle:
pungent juice crackles in oil.
Bulbous garlic cloves, pressed,
come next with white-stemmed leeks or
yellow onions that blur the edges of the room.
Soften these invitations to the tongue
then add earthen vegetables–carrots,
burdock, potatoes, beets–thinly sliced
to lend warm tones as they sauté ten minutes,
then another five with chopped cabbage
and slant-cut yellow wax, Chinese long,
or Blue Lake beans. Raise the flame to blue.
Add water till these swim
beneath the surface,
then hijiki from the East,
fresh basil from the West,
and for sweetness shared,
several capfuls of molasses
poured into the swirling center.
Bring this medley to a boil,
turn the flame low,
simmer ten more.
While this cooks, stir half a teaspoon
of yellow, red, or mellow white miso
in a little broth till smooth,
invisible enzymes released in a porcelain bowl.
To this add a teaspoon of tahini, lemon to taste,
three ladles of soup, then bless
the miracle of hands and mouth.
Thank you to the editors of Marin Poetry Center Anthology, volume six for first publishing this poem.