The cook kisses
When she opens her mouth
that would sooner hum than sing
and shapes it into a funnel for sticky porridge, mealy
or with teeth created for this very purpose she bites
off a chunk of tender sheep's neck or a goose's left breast
and passes it on - rolled in her spittle -
to me with a thrust of her tongue.
Stringy meat prechewed.
Or if too tough, run through the grinder.
Her kiss is food.
So trout cheeks, olives,
nuts, the kernels of plum pits she
has cracked with her molars,
black bread afloat in beer,
a peppercorn intact
and crumbled cheese-
with a kiss she shares them all.
Broken in health, propped on cushions,
ravaged by fever, disgust, and thoughts,
I was revived (time and again) by her kisses,
which never came empty-handed and were never just kisses.
And I gave back
oysters, calves' brains, chicken hearts, bacon.
Once we ate a pike with our fingers,
I hers, she mine.
Once we exchanged squabs
down to the delicate little bones.
Once (and time and again) we kissed each other full of
Once, after always the same quarrel
(because I'd drunk up the rent money),
a radish reconciled us after a turnip estrangement.
And once we had fun with the caraway seeds in the sauer-
and kept exchanging them, hungry for more.
When Agnes the cook
kissed Opitz the dying poet,
he took a little asparagus tip with him on his last journey.
- Gunter Grass