Reading Her Neruda's Ode To The Artichoke
by Brian Cudzilo


She fell asleep
while I was reading her a poem.

Just as I was getting
into its heart –
to the part
where our protagonist
Maria
marches unchallenged
onto the battlefield
of the market –
another
war-hardened
field marshal
hunting
for recruits;

and there
she finds
our artichoke warrior
and deems him
ready
for his life
as a soldier,
so she plucks him up
and adds him
to her bag
of cavalry.

That
is when I turned
to see her,
expecting
to see her
with a sadness
in her eyes
which so
love vegetables,

for I thought
she must know
what comes
next:

our proud
artichoke hero
will be drowned
in a pot,
its armor
unsheathed
for Maria,
much like
an invading army,
is hungry
to eat.

But when I turned
to see her
she was asleep
for she
was not hungry
for poems
or for artichokes
or for odes
to artichokes.

So I pulled
the blanket
up
and over
her shoulders,
reluctantly closed
Neruda’s
book of odes,
and putting it
on the bedside table,
I switched off
the light
so she could dream
peacefully
of the ode
to our artichoke soldier.






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