alskuefhaih
asoiefh

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Baking banana bread

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In the caramel drop of a second about thirty minutes in, reading deeply in your chair, the oven puffs a whisper from the kitchen, you remember you have a nose, and you wonder What else have I forgotten in my body of senses? What not seen, like the attraction of the word swallow on the page; What half-heard, like the varied timbre between the hiss of burning log in the wood stove and the wheeze of rain on the gravel; What not savored, like your lip, cool and warm, against the ceramic mug before you lick it, and after; What not felt, like the broom on the floor, drunk crumbs ferried, the broom and dustpan perfectly back on the hook, the basement door clicking closed, insulating mitts on your hands holding three hundred fifty degrees of now-solid food; What have I not considered and worshipped for too long?
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38 comments:

Elisabeth said...

Thank you Ruth for offering such a sensuous journey back into my senses, through your glorious words.

Kanelstrand said...

How can you be so poetic in prose?! You remind of Halldor Laxness in a weird and spontaneous way. I can imagine you, sitting on your old sofa, surrounded by your books and listening to your own thoughts. Thank you for the pleasant moment.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

I love the way your senses latch on to so many different angles of this one precious moment, one that can fit inside "a caramel drop of a second". We usually read that we live in a three dimensional world and that time is the fourth dimension, but this prose poem makes me wonder if, within each instant, within each moment of time, we live in the 5-dimensional world of our sensate imagination. And at the end of the piece, you even bring in a sixth sense, the sixth sense.

Louise Gallagher said...

so many delicious questions to ponder and savour in this post. So many sensual moments to devour.

Smells wonderful. Looks delcious. Feels delectable! Tastes great!

Smell is the first sense to develop in the womb. You have brought me back to the womb of my creative soul seeking to be expressed in everything I create.

The Broad said...

And so the mood is lifted -- in "the caramel drop of a second". Thank you for that...

Kathryn Magendie said...

lovely . . .

Grandmother said...

Remember the line in the marriage ceremony "with this body, I thee worship"? You speak of so much else to see/hear/touch/smell/taste and worship. What a specific and gorgeous reminder.

rosaria said...

A prose poem to capture the essence of banana bread, and of all the sensual things we have forgotten. Precious!

hedgewitch said...

Ruth, I think you capture here some of the fallow nature of winter. By restricting our senses with its white, cold, moody and static force, it concentrates them elsewhere. That can become crazed cabin fever, deep melancholy, or...banana bread. I will be baking some (well, actually pumpkin bread) very soon. Thanks for wafting these delightful fragrances and sensations our way.

ds said...

Yes.

Emille said...

I like your musings about something so simple, yet a deeper meaning shines through!

George said...

Buddha would be proud that your senses are awakening. Though not as poetic as "Baking Banana Bread," the title of this poem might have simply been "Mindfulness."

erin said...

if my chest had buttons i would be baring my heart for you right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and more
!!!!!!!!!!!

yes, this kind of living, please - this kind of thinking - this kind of being aware.

xo
erin

Dutchbaby said...

Aah, the seductive aroma of banana bread puffing in the oven. I like to marry a warm slice of it with a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream. Can't wait for my passionate, baking daughter to come home next week. Must remember to buy bananas early in the week so they will be nice and dark by the time she arrives. Thanks for setting the scene.

Ruth said...

Elisabeth, thank you for reading and riding with me.

Ruth said...

Sonya, in turn thank you for Halldór Laxness, whom I did not know. I found out that he is a Nobel laureate from Iceland, and I downloaded Independent People onto my kindle. Maybe I'll find out what reminded you of him here. Thank you!

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, it's mindfulness, as George says. Just the act of reading this short and lovely piece increases awareness and gives added depth and resonance to life. And that 'caramel drop of a second' is divine.

Ruth said...

Lorenzo, I read yesterday that in every 48 hour period now, the world produces more information than it did in all of human history until 2003. I don't know if it's true, though it seems so intuitively. Do you suppose there are more dimensions and senses than we now know, that will be discovered in the next 48 hours? What I think you're getting at, and me too in this moment of writing is the wish that we might live with as much sensual awareness as we can at all times. Thank you for diving into this moment with me.

Ruth said...

Louise, I did not know (or remember from recent progress reports about my grandson in the womb) that smell is the first sense to develop. They say it is also the sense most associated with memory, which I have found true so often. It makes me happy that you smelled something here that triggered creativity in you. Beautiful! Thank you.

Ruth said...

To The Broad: how lovely, thank you.

Ruth said...

Kathryn, welcome, and thank you for reading.

Ruth said...

Mary, I do not remember that line, but I will now. Thank you for it, and for reading and feeling.

Ruth said...

Rosaria, it's all about essence. Yes. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Hedge, that's a great insight, thank you. Maybe it's one of the reasons I love winter.

Ruth said...

ds, merci.

Ruth said...

Emille, your comment is lovely, thank you. We bring meaning to our objects and activities. I wonder what meaning shines through you and your artist sensibilities.

Ruth said...

George, there is flux in the flow of my senses awakening. Some days I am better than others. Some days the bliss is close to being more than I can continue, unbridled, it's so ecstatic. Others, everything seems mundane, even when I look at it closely.

Ruth said...

erin, I see your heart, even without buttons! And thank you for it, for all of you. You help me with this kind of living. Think of your value!

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, ohh, with ice cream. I have not tasted it that way! The recipe we use (both Don and I like to make this) is Betty Crocker's, which is very rich, moist and flavorful (unlike some banana breads I've tasted). When I made this one Sunday, I added apples and even a bit of tomato. What I didn't account for was how much moisture I was adding, so it should have baked longer, and when I upturned it, some insides oozed out! So I scooped that up and put it back in the oven, and when it was baked enough, I put it in a bowl and added almond milk. Dessert! Enjoy the time with your daughter. Lesley and I are so enjoying baking and cooking together now, and Don too, and Peter and Andrea too. We look forward to lots of that Thanksgiving week too!

Ruth said...

Robert, as I contemplated your kind comment, I was continuing an internal conversation from yesterday, about our value in these blog spaces. I think you (and George) nailed it (and nail it consistently in your blogs): increasing awareness. And I'm glad you and others like that caramel drop of a second, which I confess took several permutations before arriving.

Brendan said...

Did you read Hedgewitch's lead to the latest d'Verse Poets Open Link night at that cyberpub? She included a poem by William Stafford that talked about what gets included and left out of a poem, which is like what we pay attention to and don't, or know and don't. Both are so vital to the poem, don't you think? If we are to have a full embrace, we have to see everything, including, as Rilke said, the dreadful half of death. We want to embrace all of it, but we forget; awareness is by nature a beam, excluding much in order to focus well on a magnitude; every poem revises to sharpen that focus. Yet the prose poem here generously embraces the excluded or forgotten elements and declares them essential, too. I've repeated this tale many times, but in Irish mythology the older races displaced by successive invasions always fled the center to occupy the margins -- islands, the tops of mountains, under the ground, in the far land of the North. When St. Columba brought Christianity to Ireland in 563 AD, there were the original inhabitants to deal with, some of whom were seal-folk, who famously cried from the rocks offshore We, too, are sons and daughters of God. Perhaps the most sonorous tones, the most delicious scents are right under our noses while we yearn and seek ambrosias. Thank God for banana bread. -Brendan

Ruth said...

Brendan, I had not read Hedge's intro and Stafford's poem yet, so thank you for that, and your excellent comment. I agree with Hedge's observation that poems shape themselves, and I love contemplating this. Stafford's poem is wonderful too, notice what this poem is not doing. I learned this, painfully, when working with Diane Wakoski. So many weeks skipping into class with my perfectly sublime poem in hand. Then read it, only to have Diane ask me about the backstory, then hear her say, "that is far more interesting than your poem, and I did not get any of that in it . . . " So much is in our heads; our story is vast and deep. But who knows what we're thinking? It's a huge part of our craft to know how much to include: enough, just enough.

I was feeling the magnitude yesterday, of wanting to embrace everything, and then I read the statement that in 48 hours now, more information is produced than in all of history up until 2003. It may or may not be true, but what it did for me was to scream loud and clear: You can't see it all, so don't try! Focus on these small creations around you, like those astute seal-folk in St. Columba's tale.

I love that as we keep shining our little lamps, new features appear in relief, even when we think we've looked one million times, and the next one will not show anything new.

Ruth said...

Brendan, I went off in a different direction from Hedge and Stafford in my anecdote from Wakoski's class. Sometimes what we leave out is important to leave out, and sometimes we need more than we've included.

Brendan said...

Becky Kilsby (do you know her?) has a great poem on that data blizzard with her poem "Data Chains": http://beckykilsby.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/data-chains/

Oliag said...

I read this yesterday and had it turning in my mind all day...Today I returned to read it again and realize that I have been more mindful because of this poem. I am thinking of copying it out and placing it on my bedside table to glance at each morning...and to gift to others with a nice fresh loaf of bananna bread. Thank you for this gift Ruth!

amy@ Souldipper said...

We cannot take all in...even keeping up with fellow bloggers is a challenge.

Thankfully, it is about here, now.

Thankfully.

You rev my joy!

Jeanie said...

A whisper from the kitchen. We will enjoy many of these in the coming days. Perhaps some bread making is in store for this cold gray day!

Ginnie said...

Sigh. This is the time of year I most miss in America! But now I close my eyes and am awakened as though I were there. No reason why I can't bake banana bread here. HA!