Now I wonder though, might the consumption of that mama cow’s tongue have been the symbolic origin for a daughter’s own future developing poetic tongue? - because these days, who eats cow tongue otherwise?
My Mother never boasted about being a good cook. She never enjoyed meal preparation really, considered it a chore, and believed she wasn’t good at it anyway. Besides, she had seven children to raise alone, therein entailing enough work to keep her days very busy, so cooking was just one more duty to fulfill. Keeping things simple was mandatory — white rice with tuna or ground hamburger, spaghetti, fish sticks, legumes and a lot of canned and boxed foods – that’s what I remember. Occasionally she would prepare liver simmered heavy in brown sugar, my absolute favorite. I always ate everything she put on our plates, and it was all delicious to me.
One day however, through some strange inspiration, my mother actually followed a recipe and prepared beef tongue doused in a richly seasoned tomato sauce. I remember the day well because the food was “out of our ordinary-menu” and I loved the strange smells coming from the kitchen, permeating the adjoining rooms. She kept secret what was being preparing, and that created the ambiance for everything to become all-the-more exciting. Only after dinner was over did she announce to her eagerly-anticipating little ones exactly what had just been consumed, unknowingly. Most of my siblings were hugely grossed-out and our expressions of shock and dismay were the precise reaction that my mom awaited with devilish grin and resounding laughter. She was a playful person with a warm and unique sense of humor.
After her death, writing became the place where I remember her most vividly, a therapeutic avenue toward healing, with poetry the favored field of salvation explored most joyfully. Now I wonder though, might the consumption of that mama cow’s tongue have been the symbolic origin for a daughter’s own future developing poetic tongue? — because these days, who eats cow tongue otherwise? And in this lonely place landed, “half-a-century-plus” later — after divorce, death and loss and empty-nest — where are all of my fellow poets hiding, with their own unique tongues of savored expression? Need beef tongue be served but once more again for the betterment of one of communication’s most artistic expressions?
The Poet need find her own unique tongue first, and then she finds her truest voice. And I think eating cow tongue helps, at least once to try, I really do.