Toril Colaboration Garlic 2


Sitting at the computer,
I feel that I should write about
despair–the darkness of blood,
the darkness of women’s blood especially, un-spun clots
of loss and over-lording,
the web around a newborn’s head, the
hemorrhage of the will-be dead, all manner
of bloated belly–

That I should write about
what I know to be important, the windows black
that look out from
my room, the histrionic
screen, but I can hardly stand
to look at that dark glass, so write instead
about garlic, something
to hand–

I admire garlic–it was ever
a close-knit bunch–I say this not
to be flippant– but because of the way
the cloves cleave
one to its others, the sole backing
the whole, as if understanding
their collective (that is, non-collective) fate–to be cleaved
apart, each turned into
a reification of tears;
to also (oddly) when chopped–I’m at a wooden board right now–
serve as a postcard
of unpillowed baby teeth, as if proffered for safekeeping
by a host of stubby fingers, gapped-toothed grins–

but how to reconcile blood and
baby teeth, burn and savor,
of soil and despoiled, so many little
bulbs of light–

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was haunted by a deep
weakness which was identified at last as a couple of trips past
to India, from which I brought home in my inner carry-on (snuck
past customs), amoeba–both in blobs and tubes,
that splayed me on a neighbor-given
sofa, both of us
frayed, until I was prescribed, finally,
garlic, mini-scimitars swallowed
to do battle with the worms, so many that I smelled
like a salami from down the street–

Oh garlic, how do I use you so
ungently–haphazard in my peel and mince,
you who, only asking for
a wince, gave me
your all–

A singular
Kind of smelly but
Doing battle
with worms–

I know there is despair and
I know that what I know
of it is nothing, me
with a whole
child, body.


A second and belated poem of sorts–very very sorry about the length–for Margaret Bednar’s prompt on With Real Toads--about the art work of Toril Fisher.  Above a picture of garlic that is a collaboration of Toril and Tully (whose full name I don’t know.)  

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21 Comments on “Garlic”

  1. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    Another truly remarkable poem from your pen, which effortlessly weaves the tale of life and death, our living connection to the good things of the earth. I was captivated by the tone and voice and the personal account.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Kerry. I hope you know how absolutely inspiring and profound I found your recent poem on this prompt–the scent of rain. It was such a sad and moving poem, and that I felt all my efforts somewhat trivialized–which kind of led to this one. That Scent of Rain–I may not have it right–is just terrific. k.

      On Sat, Mar 7, 2015 at 8:53 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


      • Kerry O'Connor Says:

        Thank you, karin. I guess inspiration goes around. Poetry is always at its best when poets work in concert together.

  2. othermary Says:

    Marion, do you ever record yourself reading your poetry? This one should be read aloud. The O’s of “clots,” and “loss” and “over-lording” and the internal rhyme, the assonance. And that’s just in the first stanza. And your progression from blood, birth and miscarriages to the garlic cloves, together and apart. You reconcile “blood and/ baby teeth, burn and savor…” in a surprising, organic, satisfying way. I really admire this, so very much.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hey Mary, (I think you mean Karin–but that is okay). I haven’t done any recordings for a long time, in part because I travel a bunch and rarely can be in a room where no one can hear me! But I appreciate the thought and will consider it. Thanks again. k.

      • othermary Says:

        Oh gads, I’m so sorry Karin. For some reason I always want you to be Marion, and vice versa. But regardless, I loved this piece. (btw, I am the same Other Mary as Writing in the Bachs blog). I’m trying out WordPress. :o)

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Yes, I realized the mistake. No worries. And I knew who you were. Got interrupted going over there by phone call. Your dog is so cute! k.

        On Sat, Mar 7, 2015 at 9:49 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


      • othermary Says:

        Thanks. He’s sitting in the chair w/ me and helping me write just now.

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Ha. k.

        On Sat, Mar 7, 2015 at 10:11 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  3. Who would have thought there could be such a moving poem with garlic as its starting point? Wonderful.

  4. The personal account of the garlic (those scimitars!!) really weaved so well with the general pondering of what we as poets “should” write about.. a remarkable piece, and hey there is some bliss in smelling like a salami.. 🙂

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. Well, I am a vegetarian so it was a bit weird for me. I ate a clove an hour for several days straight–then many cloves/garlic pills a day, though the cloves are much more potent–it worked very well as the parasites had made me terribly anemic. Thanks, Bjorn. k.

  5. hedgewitch Says:

    While I am not always a big fan of lengthy poems (online especially,) this did not ‘read long,’ and there is a need for the length of this that is completely legitimate, I think, k–you have a complex story to tell here, and without the length, the story, I really think, would not be the same. let alone as nuanced and full of emotions and images that are at least as fragrant as garlic, and perhaps, in much the same way. IE, our perception of the smell of garlic is relative–deliciously strong and appetizing in cooking, unpleasant on the breath or hands…so it reflects the interaction between the thing itself(despair, grief, life-affirming struggle) and what we do with it. The visuals of the cloves, their union, their separation( baby teeth!) etc very striking and effective as well. Anyway, forgive me if I am reading too much into this very strong and also, in its own way, if not delicious, nourishing poem. (Also I think you may have accomplished your goal of doing a Neruda-like piece on an everyday thing beyond wildest dreams here.)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks– Garlic, I think, has a lot of potential as a subject! (Ha.) But, really, it is so very worldwide– and then there’s the whole anti-vampire aspect! k.

      On Sat, Mar 7, 2015 at 11:35 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  6. claudia Says:

    oh i do love garlic… there are days when no vampire would dare to come near me…smiles… and yeah… they’re antiseptic… when i feel i get a cold i cook something with a lot of garlic and often it helps

  7. Never say “sorry” for penning a beauty like this one. The way your poem unfolds renders it poignant and lyrical. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  8. This is remarkable, Karin, covering so much of what concerns me as a woman- blood, birth, grief and the everydayness of cooking. I love that image of the garlic doing battle with the worms and winning. We pay attention to our experiences but what do we know in the end? Maybe nothing but wise as well. And we’re so blessed- a live child, health. Yes, remarkable.

  9. Polly Says:

    Ah…’the cloves cleave’ – your use of language in this poem shows your wonderful wordsmithery – I enjoyed this very much.

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