Tuesday, April 27, 2021


Of the senses that cruel nature can decide to deny
Taste is apparently the ugly stepchild
Likely to be easily dismissed without a thought
Or simply sacrificed as in a pact with Faust

Its function can even be subsumed by its siblings
Harken to the ancients of the Epicurean tribe
Who claimed that we eat first with our eyes
For even as visual appetites can be further whetted
By the alluring smells of culinary anticipation
I'm minded that even the sounds of food preparation
Can occasionally climb to the most flavorful heights

The hunger for touch and tangible connection
The music of comfort suites and aural pleasures
The sight of delightful contours elicit recognition
The familiar smell of home remains a welcome perception

True, there are magical feasts in fairy tales
And secret recipes are oft highlighted
The storytellers of yore emphasized poisonous potions
But far more of their plot points hinge on glorious visions
Suffice to say that the gustatory is underrated

The plague announces itself with the theft of taste
A sensual covidious casualty even before smell
Superfluous perhaps, this robbery, for food is fuel
But the pandemic's effect on the tongue means all is gruel

What a life, to be resigned to the bitterness of disappointment
To no longer know the meaning of a grain of salt
Or that the sweetness of a smile could be lost in appreciation
And sour moods could remain mere shadows rather than viscerally appall

No more folktales, what about the princess and the brown sugar?
What is the spice of life when everything now requires a food taster?
You can have all the riches in the world, all that money
But without comfort food, would the prince still savor the honey?

What circle of hell is this, with no easy excuses to forgo your broccoli?
Sustenance perhaps, but might as well go for feeding tubes really
Everything is pap, utter undifferentiated banality
This poisoned chalice that has become your new normalcy

A paradox, the sensory organ continues to exist
Still soft, warm and lush, this vestigial proboscis
This invisible disability remains a dark matter
Even as you sit ruing the loss of your taste receptors

The body compensates, they say, and refines the other textures
Enhanced smell might give you an entrée
   as a great nose in the perfume industry
But it's no consolation when you can no longer detect
   a wine that's merely ordinary
A subprime foreclosure on your mooted career as a fine wine buyer

We've been reading the tale of the lost stories
Narratives of control; this paradise from which we’ve been severed
Social distancing with so many unable to walk in glory
Pity the survivor however, at a remove from a taste of heaven

The heart leaps at the mention of Auntie Becky's kelewele
Roadside excellence, the comfort food of Labone childhood reveries
The intense longing, an almost physical vibration
Synesthesia, I can picture the plantain with such acuity
But to have these flavors foregone would be agony
To be left with only the color of memory
Would a kiss of life even be extraordinary?
Taste, a lack of sensation, to no longer be at ease
It is said that nostalgia can be a fatal disease

kelewele: glorious fried plantain

After learning of my sister's covidious condition and a friend stuck in Texas trying to summon the memory of the taste of plantain

Taste, a Playlist

A tasty soundtrack for this grace note. (spotify version)

See previously: Touch

This sensory process is part of a series: In a covidious time

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Writing log: February 12, 2021

1 comment:

M S Deen said...

Good piece, sir! Please, I have tried to communicate with you for more than 4 years now.