Food and Culture at Raven
by Rhonda Pettit
The crop was in, our kitchen
was bursting to August with basil,
and we were minting our annual
feast of green: pesto to keep us
summering through fall
The TV played Who’s Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?
while I plucked and cleaned each leaf before
the simple palette of pungencies:
the gold and creams
of olive oil, garlic, parmesan, pignoli,
all to be subsumed by our backyard version
of Italy’s kiss-me-Nicholas,
each one into the Other, the only path
we take in any kind of garden,
the joy before the joining
what we make.
It was a party of two
until we saw, on the soffit above us,
a young preying mantis, half a shade
lighter than the basil it rode
to our making,
and hungry, no doubt, for its camouflage,
the sumptuous menu promised by seduction.
We caught it in a plastic bowl,
set it outside among sage and avocado,
hibiscus and lavender, said our goodbyes.
What felt like a blessing was pure accident.