An Okra Poem

An Okra Poem

 

Enjoy notable selections featuring artists and writers from The Woven Tale Press magazine. To read the issue in full subscribe here.

In the WTP Spotlight:
Zane DeZeeuw

From WTP Vol. VII #8

Zane DeZeeuw grew up in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado and holds an MFA in Fiction from Western Kentucky University. His writing has appeared in Dream Pop Journal & Press, Windfall, and Lambda Literary. He currently resides in Ottawa, KS, where he is in charge of marketing and inside sales for Loma Vista Nursery.

How to Make Fried Okra

First, you must grow
the okra. To do so,
you must leave Colorado,
let go of the mountains,
and move in with your Illinois
grandparents. You will spend
your days in their garden.

Dirt will begin to feel soft,
comforting in your hands
as you learn to write
infant plants onto the soil. For
each green sprout that emerges,
you say an apology
you will never hear. The okra
will take time to bloom, so you
will play games of Euchre,
go to bars you shouldn’t,
and discover how long
you can submerge yourself
in the neighbors’ pool
until you nearly taste
death. You will not think
of your parents.

The okra flower will then emerge
like a billowing, white Victorian
gown. You’ll touch the satin
petal only to find your skin
has transformed from adobe
taupe to walnut husk
brown. As the flowers wilt,
you will fold them into the earth,
back to their roots in a way
you can no longer return. You will
still go to those bars
you shouldn’t go to and bask
naked in the countryside; nudity
will be a freedom you’d never felt
in the layers of pine trees
and aspens.

And then, the okra
will be ready, so Nana
will teach you how to batter
it in egg and meal made
from the corn that lines
the Illinois roads. You will think
of how the motif of stalks almost
make you miss the mountains
until the corn makes way
for silo silhouettes during
the orange dusk of the land.
Then Nana will throw the okra
concoction into hot oil. You
will watch the skillet war and wonder
if grease hurts less than pendulum
hands and gunshot words.

And after you’ve battered
and fried the green vegetable,
you’ll cut into the home-
grown treat to reveal white pearls,
and you will not think of your parents.

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