Sunday, May 23, 2021

Pot Roast


 Pot Roast

by Mark Strand (Famous American Poet)


I gaze upon the roast,

that is sliced and laid out

on my plate,

and over it

I spoon the juices

of carrot and onion.

And for once I do not regret

the passage of time.


I sit by a window

that looks

on the soot-stained brick of buildings

and do not care that I see

no living thing—not a bird,

not a branch in bloom,

not a soul moving

in the rooms

behind the dark panes.

These days when there is little

to love or to praise

one could do worse

than yield

to the power of food.

So I bend


to inhale

the steam that rises

from my plate, and I think

of the first time

I tasted a roast

like this.

It was years ago

in Seabright,

Nova Scotia;

my mother leaned

over my dish and filled it

and when I finished

filled it again.

I remember the gravy,

its odor of garlic and celery,

and sopping it up

with pieces of bread.


And now

I taste it again.

The meat of memory.

The meat of no change.

I raise my fork

and I eat.


"Pot Roast" by Mark Strand from New Selected Poems. © Knopf, 2007

 Today I offer you a poem to eat. What are your best memories of food?

Eating is something we all do. Sometimes the experience can be wholly gratifying. Most of the time we barely remember doing it, especially when we are in a party. This poem reminds me how powerful and evocative this little daily ritual can be, especially when one is alone on a winter evening with no one around to cheer you up. You are then having a date with the food and the food tastes more delicious than ever.    A plate of pot roast brings back memories of the first time Strand tasted the meal...of his mother serving him a second helping. While everything around him seems bleak, the "power of food"...the "meat of memory" provides him with sustenance.

Food memories are inescapable. They are chosen for us, given flavor and meaning before we are old enough to learn the names of ingredients. As we age, our tastes may change or we may move far from home, but those defining meals are kept in the deepest pocket of our hearts, thrust forward only occasionally, but with such force that it knocks the wind out of us for a brief moment.

This poem wastes no time filling our plates. Within the first six lines, pan juices are spooned over a hot roast, and we learn, without hesitation, of a meal’s ability to provide utter contentment.

We continue eating, inhaling the scent and aroma of spices, allowing each bite to transport us deeper into memory, to the first time we tasted the dish. For the poet, this means Nova Scotoia, but we carry with us a country, a city or village, and home where treasured family meals were first experienced. Wherever we are, we share “the meat of memory”, a meal that reminds us of not the house or the surrounds which may have changed, but of ourselves. So, at the table we reminisce, raise a fork in honor of the meal we tasted and a happy return to the table of childhood.



No comments:

Post a Comment