You said you found a wonderful recipe –
your Herbes de Provence Spéciales – inside
an antique urn you bought in Boston
by bartering your time, au pairing
two sets, twin brats of Belgian diplomats.
But it broke. Another time you said
it was on the Calais ferry where you’d met
a sharp-toothed chef from Transylvania
who wooed you furrily in pine-dark woods
on hot summer nights, with gourmet bites
in woven baskets. But he died you said –
unexpectedly, of tropical contagions that luckily
you didn’t catch, leaving in your custody
the secret recipe – Herbes de Provence Spéciales.
I loved your stories so carefully prepared
with unlabelled seasonings you grew
in greenhouse beds – the rosemary, a thorny
bush you smuggled back in ’65 from Algiers you said.
I loved the witchy way your slender fingers
held the knife and chopped into so many bits –
the twigs and leaves and stems.
I watched enchanted while you put a pinch of this
and that into the pot and stirred, and ate whatever
you served. The soup (as I recall) was red and cold
gazpacho, but for the life of me I can’t remember
more. Rosemary cures bad memories, you said.
I laughed. You smiled. You said you found the recipe –
in a coat pocket, on a park bench – in Buenos Aires