Aioli

Cristina Legarda

Aioli requires near-perfect silence.

It won’t withstand the roil

of household noise – footfall,

crockery, speech, slamming doors.

Speak in whispers if you must,

lest the crushed garlic, egg

yolks, salt, and olive oil

fail to mingle drop by drop.

A kiss of lemon juice, perhaps,

to bring the brightness of the sun

into the toil of pestle grinding garlic

on the stone – but lightly, a troubadour’s

caress on strings, like the heady scent

of lavender and loam, or the faint tolling

of an old church bell just faraway enough

to leave the mingling undisturbed.

Another drop – but not quite there;

the labor slow as slants of light,

their languid length across the kitchen wall

a stretching of space and time, the world.

This is the drop, this is the one:

shhhhh

we’ve already come so far.

A whisking full of hope, a pause.

The drop has disappeared from sight.

A new creation now is here

to soak into our eager bread,

to melt over our tongues

like a dollop of poetry,

luxurious and nourishing, with just enough bite.

Cristina Legarda was born in the Philippines and spent her early childhood there before moving to Bethesda, Maryland. She is now a practicing physician in Boston. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in America magazine, Diaspora Baby Blues, Dappled Things, Plainsongs, and FOLIO.