Ode to Gumbo by Chris Tusa

after Sue Owen

Born from flour anointed with oil,
from a roux dark and mean as a horse’s breath,
you remind me of some strange, mystical stew
spawned from a muddy version of Macbeth.
Only someone’s replaced the spells with spices,
the witches with a Cajun chef.

Maybe you’re a recipe torn from Satan’s Cookbook,
a kind of dumb-downed devil’s brew
where evil stirs its wicked spoon
in a swampy sacrificial hue.
Maybe God damned the okra that thickens
your soup, the muddy bones that haunt your stew.

Maybe this is why, when we smell the cayenne,
we’re struck dumb as a moth.
Maybe this is why everything that crawls or flies
seems to find its way into your swampy broth.

by Chris Tusa

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