Food Poetry: Green Beans, by Rod Jellema

Published by Thursday, February 17, 2011 Permalink 0
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by Rod Jellema

Green Beans

The bean is a graceful, confiding, engaging vine;
but you never can put beans into poetry. . . .
There is no dignity in the bean.

Charles Dudley Warner


Spring-loaded vines
on tendrils
shinny up skinny
poles and
shoot for the sun.
Their leavings are
heart shapes that
pinch to life
small yellow curves
that plump
like the knuckles
on babies’ hands.
Each nub
lengthens down
to a green
velvet composure
that will curtsy
and sway in the wind.


No need to slit the tight skin
down to its pearls. Just snap
the stem and bite. The coldest
spring water never rinses away
the holy scent of turned earth
slendered into a bean, that trace
it holds of wild green smoke.
Relaxed in steam and slathered
in buttery gold, each one of
these peasants, when summoned
to the royal red silk
banquet hall of your mouth
will loyally serve its fare,
presenting with quiet dignity
small mists of sweetgrass, pineroot,
peat, seawater, ancient stone.

Rod Jellema is Professor Emeritus of English and former Director of Creative Writing at the University of Maryland. His 2005 book, A Slender Grace won the Towson University Prize for Literature. Incarnality: The Collected Poems, which includes his reading of 26 of the poems on a CD, was published in October, 2010. Click here to go to his website.

Photo courtesy of Dreamstime.

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