“My materialist mind, I can’t / shake it,” writes Solmaz Sharif in her poem “Now What” from her second collection, Customs, forthcoming in March by Graywolf Press. The speaker of the poem sits in a hotel in Ohio eating takeout and meditating on the origins of the meal, tracing connections back into history and the people whose hands made this food possible: “Within a perfect / little tub of garlic / butter // a relief of workers, of sickles / fields of soy.” Write a poem that meditates on the origins of a favorite condiment, seasoning, or meal. Try to establish a time and place in the poem by beginning in the present, then leap into the anecdotal or historical stories that come to you.
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