Summer 2008 • Vol. XXX No. 3 PoetryJuly 1, 2008 |

Ode to Gumbo

For weeks I have waited for a day without deathor doubt. Instead the sky set afire or the flood filling my face. A stubborn drain nothing can fix. Every day death. Every morning death & every night & evening And each hour a kind of winter— all weather is unkind. Too hot, or cold that creeps the bones. Father, your face a faith I can no longer see. Across the street a dying, yet still-standing tree. • • So why not make a soup of what's left? Why not boil & chop something outside the mind—let us welcome winter for a few hours, even in summer. Some say Gumbo starts with filé or with roux, begins with flour & water making sure not to burn. I know Gumbo starts with sorrow— with hands that cannot wait but must—with stirring & a slow boil & things that cannot be taught, like grace.Done right, Gumbo lasts for days. Done right, it will feed you & not let go.Like grief you can eat & eat & still plenty left. Food of the saints, Gumbo will

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Kevin Young is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems, 1995–2015. His Book of Hours was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Prize; his book The Grey Album won the PEN Open Award, the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. This essay has been adapted from Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, longlisted for the National Book Award.

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For weeks I have waited for a day without deathor doubt. Instead the sky set afire or the flood filling my face. A stubborn drain nothing can fix. Every day […]

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