CW: passing mention of death/ mourning.
The first time you taste it,
it is likely lost in a mélange,
a tangle of strange, bright frissons,
more scent than anything.
The apple flares to life,
more itself than it was alone.
The same is true for the next time.
And the next.
So that the first time someone tells you:
Be careful of the cardamom,
you are surprised, digging through slow-cooked lamb,
and discovering four things you didn’t know you liked.
One of them is her – eager to please,
but no-one is suggesting she’ll replace the unspoken.
You are, all of you, too old for platitudes,
but politeness is a gift you can bring
to this new table on a barrage of charm.
She seems nothing like your mother, and he loves her.
Alongside whole cloves of garlic
you unearth dark, wrinkled, unprepossessing pods,
which have seeped their soapy sharpness
into the sacrificial flesh.
Later you will recognise it in a brief stint,
never written home about, as a chambermaid,
the linen closet fragrant with peaceful secrets.
And even though these days it only graces you
in glass-bound mixes blended by other hands,
you cannot now untaste it,
and it stands coolly apart from
neighbouring clove and cinnamon,
a reminder of love after death,
and the inevitability of new memories.