“If this is sin, then sign me up / for Dante’s hell,” proclaims Judith Saunders in her new collection, enticing the reader to follow her, “to practice each / defining gesture of our love / with ceaseless zeal.” These are poems that sing through the senses: “Summer lingers, lush / beyond its prime, tropic days / breeding fat, moist nights. / We taste the swollen season / and defy the calendar.”
To Woo a Woman Meatloaf, beet greens, baked potato, some oatmeal raisin cookies for dessert. No cordon bleu, no Something Boeuf. The brown and rounded hump of meatloaf sprawled in homely hominess, spiked with bits of onion and tomato, its delicious nonchalance (as Gertrude Stein would say) completely peaceful and exciting. The beet greens promised whimsy, flair, a feel for country quaintness, succulent stalks concealing tiny, unexpected bursts of bud, some early red to tint the tang of sharp spring green. And courtship with a baked potato! —crunchy crusted, innards soft and buttery, tasting of a bounty absolute and unselfconscious. Each bite of oatmeal cookie blended wholesomeness of grain and fruit with caramel chewiness and spice, a giddy rush of sweet, sheer down-home paradise. This meal was one to eat and eat again, reassuring in its perfect plainness, plain perfection, food to rave for and cleave to and swear by, nourishing an ever after.