May/June 2021 • Vol. XLIII No. 3 Poetry |

Soup

When the doctor said I’ve got good news and bad news, I thought of soup—how long it had been since I had had the homemade kind, the real deal where you soak the beans overnight and everything is apportioned in stages: first the onions and meat browned in oil, then the broth added for hours of simmering, all that saturated glistering scent stoking the house with memories: the Jewish boy I kissed until we both sank to our knees in the grass, my mother’s frown as she plucked weeds from my hair—oh my mother will die from this, my mother whose soup is the best even though it was always oversalted because it was labored over, it was ladled out unconditionally, tendered sweetly without consequences, a nonjudicial love— and it was always soup I got first thing in the sickbed, and there’s the way tomatoes are added at the last moment but the minor vegetables (peas and corn and tiny diced potatoes) come in thirty minutes before that, and how the spices—ah, the spices—are to be

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Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove has published numerous books, most recently Sonata Mulattica and Collected Poems 1974-2004; she also edited The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry. Among her many awards are the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal. She is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

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Island

By Rita Dove

When the doctor said I’ve got good news and bad news, I thought of soup—how long it had been since I had had the homemade kind, the real deal where […]

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