Garlic Press

by Michael Sandler

Call it fierce appetite for gadgets,
strawberry huller, a lobster pick
good for fishing out olives. Lives
imbue my favorite, cracking
walnuts in a pinch, juicing lemons—
but mostly for exuding garlic.

Mom’s joke: a real chef would cook
his goose with one. She used to clear
the flat side of a knife to mash
the slices, palm to blade with fervor
to make a tough clove weep—her steel
gleam my earliest childhood fear.

No, it was when I watched her cut
her thumb. Dangled. All blood. For days
I wouldn’t let her touch me, that
club of a bandage. Through the gauze
I could make out the jellied wound,
the dressing too thin to disguise.

This device beats slicing and mincing
and, if pressed, maybe I’d admit
it’s sensual to feel the crunch
and squirt of pulp into a skillet
hissing with oil. True, the flame
should be on low, much more sedate.

A former girlfriend taught me all
about aioli, from the French.
It seemed her favorite word was I,
giving l’ail to what she poached,
going out with a friend of mine—
her cleaving vow, We’ll keep in touch,

plunked in my back at least as deep
as the relationships I’ve quit.
Mine must seem a cold neglect,
aloof savoir in how to mete
out grief. But a self-reproach lingers—
and ferrets an encrusted guilt

that can’t quite heal. History pries
open the scab as I look back
on each betrayal and abuse
lust had clamored for. Is it sick
that I still think of hilts and their shaped
hardness—or call my sins mistakes?

Domestic tasks turn palliative.
As with a pre-diced mirepoix
from Trader Joe’s, garlic becomes
manageable after I draw
it through a riddle—for a moment
it almost seems a mild purée.

Desire’s knives augur, whetted at both
ends—what still draws me to those blades?
Inevitably at the sight of blood
a show of nonchalance appears
while I attempt to keep a grip.
Should I give it one more squeeze?


Category: Poetry, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing