Ode to Pepper Vinegar
By Kevin Young
You sat in the tomb
of our family fridge for years, without
fail. You were all
I wanted covering my greens, satisfaction
I've since sought
for years in restaurants which claimed soul, but neither
knew you nor
your vinegar prayer. Baby brother
of bitterness, soothsayer,
you taught me the difference between loss
& holding on. Next to the neon
of the maraschino cherries, you floated & stayed
constant as a flame
on an unknown soldier's grave— I never did know
how you got here
you just were. Adrift in your mason jar
you were a briny bit of where
we came from, rusty lid awaiting our touch
& tongue—you were faith
in the everyday, not rare as the sugarcane
my grandparents sent north
come Christmas, drained sweet & dry, delicious, gone
by New Year's—
no, you were nearer, familiar, the thump
thump of an upright bass
or the brass of a funeral band
bringing us home.
Buy Kevin Young Dear Darkness from Amazon here.
Buy Kevin Young Dear Darkness from IndieBound here.
Visit poem-a-day.knopfdoubleday.com for more about this poem and to sign up for Knopf's 2010 Poem-a-Day email.
Excerpt from DEAR DARKNESS. Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Young. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.