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by Charles Simic, American poet

Take a little backache
Melt some snow from the year of your birth
Add the lump in your throat
And the fear of the dark

Instead of oil a pinch of chill
But let it be northern
Instead of parsley
Swear loudly into it

Then stir it with the night
Until its fins and penny-nails
Are blended.
* * *
On what shall we cook it?

On something like a cough
On the morning star about to fade
On the whisker of a black cat
On an oval locket with a picture of Jesus
On the nipple of a sleeping woman

Let's cook it until we raise
That heavy autumnal cloud
From its bowels
Even if it takes a hundred years.
* * *
What do you think it will taste like?

Like barbed wire, like burglar's tools
Like a word you'd rather forget
The way the book tastes to the goaty
Who is chewing and spitting its pages
Also like the ear of a girl you are about to undress
Also like the rim of a smile

In the twentieth century
We arouse the sun's curiosity
By whistling for the soup
To be served.
* * *
What in the world shall we eat it with?

With a shoe that left last night
To baptize itself in the rain
With two eyes that quarrel in the same head
With a finger which is the divining-rod
Searching for its clearest streak
With a hat in which the thoughts
Grind each other into black pepper

We'll dive into the soup
With a grain of salt between our teeth
And won't come up
Until we learn its song.
* * *
And this is what we'll have on the side:

Lust on halfshells with lemon wedges
Mushrooms stuffed with death and almonds
The bread of memory, a black bread
Blood sausages of yes and no

A hiccup in aspic with paprika
Cold wind fried in onions
A roast of darkest thoughts
Young burp with fish ears
Green apples glazed with envy

We'll wash it all down
With the ale brewed from the foam
Gathered at the mouths
Of our old pursuers:
The mad, god-sent bloodhounds.