a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Rack of Lamb
A masterpiece, the way the chef has sheared
the meat the fat the cartilage from its ribs.
This much I know. Raw shank rubbed with
kosher salt, virgin garlic, seared in a cast-iron skillet
fat side roasted brown. The way bare bone shimmers
in candlelight, bidding me to bow down, every cell
in my body lifting to taste the first bite.
On my tongue a nursery rhyme, and in that lyric
a lamb born in a barn, suckled by its mother,
fleece as white as snow.
That would be the good news.
And the bad? A terrible farm in Nebraska,
research lab tangled in tax dollars, probing
for profits, a cheaper meat the market’s holy grail.
Pigs. Cows. I’ll spare the gloom — but the lambs
in fields without sheepfold or shepherd,
an effort called Easy Care?
What does a lamb know of easy? Or profit? For this one
on my platter, what matters if he’s slathered in
whole-grain mustard and pomegranate molasses?
A waiter fills my glass with a rich red Bordeaux,
perfect pairing for lamb he says. Notice the notes he says
of blackberries spiced with earth.
I drink to the blackberries the earth the barn the lamb
the little lamb’s mother in fields of green.
I drink to Mary, to this delicacy
set before me, to those children laughing.
Barbara Conrad is author of Wild Plums, published by FutureCycle Press in 2013 and The Gravity of Color, a chapbook published by Main Street Rag in 2007 and editor of Waiting for Soup, a collection of art and poetry from her weekly workshops with homeless neighbors in Charlotte, NC. Her poems have been selected by such journals and anthologies as Tar River Poetry, Pembroke, Broad River, Nine Mile, Southern Women’s Review, Icarus, Kakalak, Jacar Press and Southern Poetry Anthology. Three of her poems were recently finalists for the 2015 NC Literary Review, James Applewhite Prize. Her writings, which focus on personal journey, nature and social justice issues, have won awards, honorable mentions and a Pushcart nomination. She is currently working on a collection of witness poems focused on world and personal events.