Even poems that spring entirely from prompts in books absorb things from my life. This is surely one of the more odd subjects I’ve ever chosen for a poem, inspired by a prompt to write a syllabic poem about a vegetable, in homage to Sylvia Plath’s “Mushrooms.” The first line sprang forth fully formed, born of the linguistic adventure that being an American shopping in Scotland perpetually is. When I want to make vegetable soup, I occasionally wish I had a phrasebook to take shopping with me.
I have European alter-egos:
Swede, turnip, a neep where there are tatties.
Crayon-peach when you cut me, the color
A child might scribble in the middle of
The sun, or the skin of an outline doll,
I defy slicing with a birch-bark shell.
Bagroot, maip, erfin, famine potato,
Carven lantern with a mummy’s grimace,
And a wee toothsome dose of cyanide —
In these ways I resist all your knowing.