cures all ills.
And the heady smell of pepper after a long absence
(I ran out, but was avoiding the store)
reminds me of why India was a prize.
Only in the tropics
do such spices grow;
and only in the tropics, does the chile develop spicy flesh
painful to eat, intoxicating.
It is this hotness, ground up into cayenne or Tabasco
that makes the deviled egg deviled. Satan, it seems
likes his food hot, like the weather
in the jungle, the southern coast
mopping one’s brow and eating harissa,
curry with pepper sauce.
The eggs are beautiful whole. They become uncomfortable
when violated; too fresh
to peel properly.
Spicy Chinese mustard is a miracle.
A folk cure, it fixes both the common cold
and bland fillings.
The Puritans, I imagine, had a diet as plain as their teachings. No bedeviling
This dish has something in common with martinis. Both are improved
by a nice green olive.
(Of course, what isn’t?)
24 halves on a plate, arranged like the 1950s
in our memory. Complete, nice looking, an end in itself.
The embodiment of all that is conventional
about parties, and a hint
(those martinis, that spice, the comfort of the familiar mixed with the strange)
of why we love them so.