Coming closer to Thanksgiving makes me think of Prartho Sereno’s imaginative and fascinating poetry book: Causing a Stir: The secret lives and loves of kitchen utensils. Food is involved, you see. And love. The wonderful poems are complemented by paintings, also done by Prartho.
What I love about these poems is Prartho’s child-like grace, angelic and playful all at once. The poems delight and remind one of simple, beautiful things. Prartho brings alive the fantastical lives of utensils disguised within the ordinary ones that we know.
We have the Dinner Fork wondering what it would be like to lead a different life. Devoted worker that he is, he never makes it back to the drawer but instead camps all night in the drainer. ‘In the moonlit hours, he sometimes wishes for a different life.’ The Teaspoon is everyone’s sweetheart. She’s the yielding one/ the Silver Queen of Yes. Even Magicians love her.
Her taste for all things
tart and sweet has led her
into every kind of affair–
through terraced tea fields
and jungle plantations,
through every door that opens
to the poet’s heart…
The Dinner Knife is the Prince of Understatement/of clean line and simple design/stands cool/ and tall/ in the kitchen heat… Prartho’s utensils have hidden lives to tell. The Butter Knife is a reincarnation. Previously was a set of bangles on the arm of a rich, sad woman. The Salad and Dessert Forks are ‘identical twins, perpetual teenagers who never stick around for a whole meal because they’re girl-crazy.’
The Pickle Fork was in a way cursed by his mother: Keep eating like that and you’ll wind up nothing but silver and bone. And that’s really what happened. As if that wasn’t enough, the Iced Teaspoon broke his heart, so he’s full of brine and croons vinegary love songs about the Iced Teaspoon’s ‘impenetrable wintry heart.’ But the Iced Teaspoon has her own story; she’s the bittersweet ballerina whose sole purpose is to come full circle again and again.
To read more about Prartho’s capable kitchen citizenry; the Measuring Spoons, Pastry Blender, Wooden Spoons, Sugar Spoon, Pie Server, Spatula, Soup Spoon, Barbecue Fork and so on, get yourself a copy from Amazon or get an autographed one from Prartho via her blog.
I’ll give you a taste of her two poems. Delicious, I promise. The Ice Cream Scoop and Dinner Fork, from the collection: Causing a Stir.
Ice Cream Scoop
You have to be open,
round and deep,
to hold a bowl of winter
in your hands.
You must gather yourself
inside your hooded cloak.
Become strong as steel
For one day you will be taken
to the holy rivers: Peaches
and Cream, Cocoa-Loco,
A mysterious hand
will push you in, instruct you
to bring back something
sweet and rich. Trusting you
to add a new note
to the cool, smooth hum of the world.
He coined the phrase Dig in!-
our upright, uptight, man of steel.
Devoted worker, never makes it
back to the drawer, camps instead
all night in the drainer. But in those
moonlit hours, he sometimes wishes
for a different life.
Not that he minds shouldering
a little extra weight. He’s glad
to be strong and direct. It’s just that
once in a while a souffle comes a long
that puts his head in the clouds for days.
And then there’s the story of Uncle Felix,
who went for a picnic and never came back.
He pictures his uncle in a bed of flowers
among the frogs and bees,
drunk on rainwater and shooting stars.
Yes, behind that stalwart stance,
the dinner fork is a dreamer.
Every winged fancy flocks
to roost in those long tines,
and they tangle there, hopelessly,
To read her other poems online, click.
Prartho’s publications include a collection of memoir-inspirational essays: Everyday Miracles: An A to Z Guide to the Simple Wonders of Life (Kensington, 1998), a chapbook of poems, Garden Sutra, and an enchanting, award-winning collection of poems, Call from Paris (2007 Word Works Washington Prize). In addition to writing and teaching poetry, Prartho is in her second year MFA program (Poetry) at Syracuse University.