Posted by: Irene Fridsma | March 31, 2011

The Imported Cook

(after Elizabeth Bishop) A sestina- 6 lines, 6 stanzas, 6 ending words, a summary 3 line stanza. My first try at it. Just for fun!

The Imported Cook

she reached across the wide shelf
to retrieve pans to cook
the stew which was today’s challenge
since she was losing her train
of thought down a daydream stream
when she should have been browning beef

she had emigrated from the town across the stream
bought a ticket that took her this far by train
she wasn’t the best cook
certainly not top shelf
recipes were always a challenge
but her patient husband wasn’t one to beef

his forbearance helped her weather the challenge
of interpreting the unusual ingredient list that ended with “ribs of beef”
it was a special order from a store downstream
the rest she found on the local grocer’s shelf
it took her hours to prepare and cook
and at day’s end she felt like she’d been dragged behind the train

she waited for the beef to cook
having conquered the recipe challenge
she began to clean the kitchen returning pots to the shelf
enjoying the aromas and thinking how to train
her children to accept an unfamiliar beef
casserole with meat ordered from the city downstream

she was happy in her role as cook
knowing that French cuisine would be an ongoing challenge
Julia Child’s book remained on the shelf
open to a recipe involving brisket of beef
the boat captain would get to know this stop on the stream
as well as the travelers by train

she soon filled each shelf
with ingredients to cook
other combinations embracing the challenge
of new food adventures wanting to train
herself to enter the western mainstream
with its fondness for beef

the top shelf, the frazzled cook
exotic spices and beef, the train
and her challenge to secure specialty meats from down stream


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