Once I had a friend who shared my love of strong flavors. We would buy things like kimchee and Limburger cheese and pesto that was mostly garlic and sit at the small kitchen table in the 4th-floor walkup I shared with my sister eating it. You two and your stinky food!, my sister would say, and she was right. Intensity is a good thing when it comes to food. And gin, the kind where you can taste all the plants and flowers and life that’s been infused into it: bay and juniper and sage, dry sunshine air. “Whatever’s your most botanical,” is what I say to the bartender when they ask. I don’t care if there’s a heaven and I don’t believe anyone who tells me there are rules for getting into it, because why does it matter? This is the world we live in. This is our hell and our heaven, this world right here, the one with the Limburger and the pesto and the St. George terroir. Which is why I love this poem, by the great Kim Addonizio, a woman who has never been afraid of strong flavors.
For Desire, by Kim Addonizio
Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best;
and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal
surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries,
or cherries, the rich spurt in the back
of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing.
Give me the lover who yanks open the door
of his house and presses me to the wall
in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I’m drenched
and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
and begin their delicious diaspora
through the cities and small towns of my body.
To hell with the saints, with martyrs
of my childhood meant to instruct me
in the power of endurance and faith,
to hell with the next world and its pallid angels
swooning and sighing like Victorian girls.
I want this world.
For more information on Kim Addonizio, please visit her website.