melted butter on the top
and bake until the cheese
has bubbled gold.
That tiger somehow seemed to know how to think like a tiger,
like a paranoid tiger stoned out of his whiskers. Instead of gobbling up
the little children, he ran, round and round a tree,
faster and faster until he was whirling round so fast his legs
could not be seen, it was more that just a blur, he was melting,
melting away until there was nothing left
except a great pool of melted butter.
“Can we smoke that?” inquired Little Speckled Sarah.
“I don’t think so, but I bet we could cook with it.” said Little Freckled Furman.
So the children scooped up the butter in their sneakers
and found their way home after torturing a turtle for directions.
When the mothers saw the melted butter, they were pleased!
“Now we’ll all have pancakes for supper!” and the whole family
sat around a huge big plate of most lovely
pancakes, yellow and brown as little tigers. The mothers each ate
twenty-seven pancakes, the fathers came over and each ate fifty-five
and the children each ate a hundred and sixty-nine
because they were so hungry.
[re torturing turtles, see Lowell’s returned turtle: “raw hamburger mossing in the watery stoppage” &c.]
They’ve taken the skeleton
Of the Great Irish Elk
Out of the peat, set it up
An astounding crate full of air.
Butter sunk under
More than a hundred years
Was recovered salty and white.
The ground itself is kind, black butter
Melting and opening underfoot,
Missing its last definition
By millions of years.
They’ll never dig coal here,
Only the waterlogged trunks
Of great firs, soft as pulp.
Our pioneers keep striking
Inwards and downwards,
Every layer they strip
Seems camped on before.
The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage.
The wet centre is bottomless.
“eesh, bangers and mash writ large!”
When the city melts like butter
and the sky sizzles like bacon
we’ll be safe and snug
deep in our bomb shelter.
You’ll read my palm
running your finger along
the long life line.
and cuddle together
like potatoes in their jackets
like sausages in the oven.
Seamus Heaney: “Churning Day”
A thick crust, coarse-grained as limestone rough-cast,
hardened gradually on top of the four crocks
that stood, large pottery bombs, in the small pantry.
After the hot brewery of gland, cud and udder,
cool porous earthenware fermented the buttermilk
for churning day, when the hooped churn was scoured
with plumping kettles and the busy scrubber
echoed daintily on the seasoned wood.
It stood then, purified, on the flagged kitchen floor.
Out came the four crocks, spilled their heavy lip
of cream, their white insides, into the sterile churn.
The staff, like a great whisky muddler fashioned
in deal wood, was plunged in, the lid fitted.
My mother took first turn, set up rhythms
that slugged and thumped for hours. Arms ached.
Hands blistered. Cheeks and clothes were spattered
with flabby milk.
Where finally gold flecks
began to dance. They poured hot water then,
sterilized a birchwood-bowl
and little corrugated butter-spades.
Their short stroke quickened, suddenly
a yellow curd was weighting the churned up white,
heavy and rich, coagulated sunlight
that they fished, dripping, in a wide tin strainer,
heaped up like gilded gravel in the bowl.
The house would stink long after churning day,
acrid as a sulphur mine. The empty crocks
were ranged along the wall again, the butter
in soft printed slabs was piled on pantry shelves.
And in the house we moved with gravid ease,
our brains turned crystals full of clean deal churns,
the plash and gurgle of the sour-breathed milk,
the pat and slap of small spades on wet lumps.
Of some birch-enshrouded homestead, dropping butter on her book Betjeman, “Huxley Hall”
and fills thy Cave / with golden Pomes profuse
Rotund, or oval, in whatever form,
My jocund eyes thy pleasing presence meet,
Hail, bounteous Pudding! hot, or cold, all hail!
Whether my blue-eyed Kate, with lily hand,
In simple neatness eminent, whose smile
Is love ineffable, into thy lap
Insueth store of Eggs, and spicy Sweets
Whose fragrance is inferior to herself;
Or whether Joan, in woolly Vestment clad,
Dwelling in Straw-thatcht Cott, with busy glee
Thy composition kneads, and fills thy Cave
With golden Pomes profuse, or leaves thee coarse,
Of Suet, Butter, and aught else devoid
Tending to flavour, serv’d in wooden Bowl.
Oh! welcome thou, mine Appetite’s best Guest;
Whether the Oven’s heat embrowns thy Crust,
With Sugar frosted, crumbling at the touch;
Or whether thou in ragged Clout enwrap’d
Hast felt the boiling Tempest of the Pot.
But chiefly come, and deck mine humble Cloth
With all the rich magnificence of Plumbs
Array’d most gorgeously, whilst down thy sides
Hot melted Butter rolls its golden wave,
As amorous of thy charms. Here might the Sons
Of Luxury deprav’d look on with Eyes
That envy’d, while they gaz’d. Give me but this,
And let the bloated Alderman devour
Turtle, that boasts diversity of food,
And rarest dainties, still more dainty made,
By being tortured from their native taste.
I shall not grudge their feast. Be Pudding mine
And I can pass yon celebrated stall,
Where the firm Salmon tempts the greedy eye
Of stopping Passenger, and where the sight,
“Nor cast one longing lingring look behind.”
William Woty, “Pudding”
(on “and rarest dainties, still more dainty made,” cf Auden’s “plain cooking, made still plainer by plain cooks”)