Language was opening me up in ways I couldn’t explain and I assumed it was part of the apprenticeship of a poet. (Jimmy Santiago Baca, A Place to Stand)

    c.1300, from O.Fr. aprentiz “someone learning” (13c.), from aprendre (Mod.Fr. apprendre ) “to learn, teach,” contracted from L. apprehendere (see apprehend). Aphetic form prentice was long more usual in English. The verb is first attested 1630s. (


    I learned how to be a cook by watching
    and listening to those whose hands
    were already calloused before
    I ever picked up a kitchen knife.
    Now I have calluses of my own.

    I learned how to be a poet by reading
    and listening to those whose hearts
    were already broken open before
    I ever chased down a metaphor.
    Now I have a hunger for words.

    I’m three weeks away from my last shift in
    the kitchen and the calluses
    are already fading, peeling off, though
    I am still making dinner at home.
    Cooking is in my blood.

    I’m five days away from my last writing,
    though my heart has been opened
    up already, I have fallen private,
    forgetting to write out loud for friends
    who gather like dinner guests.

    I teach for a living, though my calling
    is to learn, to apprentice,
    to soak up smells and sounds, words and wonders,
    to come to table and tablet that
    I might taste and see what is good.



    1. Forgetting to write out loud for friends gathered like dinner guests. Me too. Excuses: I don’t have time to cook…who will come to the table?

      No matter, right? There’s lots of food in the pantry and we still need to cook it. Thanks.

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