Iceberg Lettuce

By Joanie Mackowski b. 1963 Joanie Mackowski
What vegetable leviathan
extends beneath the dinner table,
an unseen, monstrous green that pulls
the chair out from under our faith
 
in appearances: see a mere tuft
of leaf on the plate like a wing,
but if it flies away, it undoubtedly
will disturb the continental drift
 
asleep under the salad plate,
the hidden world we forget
as we reach for the smaller fork—
(and now, mouth full, don't speak: politely
 
chew your leaf of firmament
that's torn and tossed up in vinegar here as
we'll be tossed before its vast
root maybe someday or any moment).

Source: Poetry (January 1999).

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This poem originally appeared in the January 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

January 1999
 Joanie  Mackowski

Biography

Joanie Mackowski’s collections of poems are The Zoo (2002) and View from a Temporary Window (2010). She received a BA from Wesleyan University, was a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, and received a PhD from the University of Missouri. A professor at Cornell University, she has worked as a French translator, a journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a juggler. She is the winner of the 2003 Kate Tufts . . .

Continue reading this biography

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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