Riehlife Poem of the Day: Katrina Vandenberg’s “Pesto in August”

Pesto in August
by Katrina Vandenberg
from Atlas

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.

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