Pesto in August
by Katrina Vandenberg
How many times does this ritual repeat
itself, preparation that begins with sweetness
unlocked by the parting of leaves? How many
women have unpetaled garlic cloves, dripped oil
cold-pressed from olives down a bowl’s curve,
ground the edible seeds of pine with mortar
and pestle until the clay was sweet with resin?
Though the legend speaks of love, in Italy
when a woman let basil’s scent seep from
her clay-potted balcony, she was being modest
when she said the smell would tell a certain man
to be ready only for her flowers and her smile.
Tonight I steam pasta until my wallpaper curls
from the walls, slice heavy globes of tomatoes
that separate in sighs of juice and seed,
then toss them with hot spaghetti and the green
my garden has produced with sun, wind, earth,
moon, rain; I remember another legend,
that a sprig of basil given
in love seals love forever.
A clink of plates, of silverware, an overflow
of wine. Say, Love, I am ready. Come. Take. Eat.