April is Poetry Month: Pot Roast by Mark Strand

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

From Stacey: “This poem, by Mark Strand, comes to mind because I’ll be making beef brisket for Passover.

I’m making it the way my mom made it, and the way her mother made it: I use the second (fattier) cut, ordered from a butcher, lots of onions, thyme, broth, wine, and many hours in the oven. I’ve tried many recipes for brisket, including one that uses a can of coca-cola, but I always come back to a basic braise that I hope induces this kind of swoon in my guests.”

Pot Roast

I gaze upon the roast,
that is sliced and laid out
on my plate
and over it
I spoon the juices
of carrot and onion.
And for once I do not regret
the passage of time.

I sit by a window that looks on the soot-stained brick of buildings and do not care that I see no living thing-not a bird, not a branch in bloom, not a soul moving in the rooms behind the dark panes. These days when there is little to love or to praise one could do worse than yield to the power of food. So I bend

to inhale
the steam that rises
from my plate, and I think
of the first time
I tasted a roast
like this.
It was years ago
in Seabright,
Nova Scotia;

my mother leaned
over my dish and filled it
and when I finished
filled it again.
I remember the gravy,
its odor of garlic and celery,
and sopping it up
with pieces of bread.

And now
I taste it again.
The meat of memory.
The meat of no change.
I raise my fork
and I eat.

– Mark Strand, Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990)

(Thanks, Stacey!)