Thirteen Ways of Looking at Two Table Condiments: In the Style of Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Blackbird”

S.E. Page

I

Pepper is no sneering salt flake—
Shifting umber dunes,
Pale tans and darks
Dapple in glass confines
Like the leonine
Gleam in a wildcat’s eye.

II

The sultry aspect
Of pepper
Hypnotizes the unwary
Watcher.
If only there was a name
For such
Granular seduction.

III

Though pepper is nothing to hiccup at,
I confess, on occasion
I have sneezed in its presence.

IV

Together, salt and pepper
Make calico.

V

Sweetness were the cookies
First intent,
But the salt betrayed the sugar
And took its place in measurement.

VI

She did not like the subtle salt—
Its porcelain dust demeanor
Stared coyly back at her
From across the blue checkered
Tablecloth.

VII

A dichotomous dilemma:
To salt or not—the butter
Comes packaged both ways.

VIII

When the first man
For the first time
Licked salt
It stung his tongue—
Temperance became a flavor
Before it was a virtue.

IX

To all appearances,
Salt and pepper
Are an equidistant couple
Caught in the gravitational
Pull of the other.

X

A lone shaker,
Alone.
Someone passed the salt.

XI

I praise the pungent particles
That give the diner and the dining room
Nothing.
The food, on the other hand,
And with a shake,
Gains a more piquant
Ambiance.

XII

Twinned citadels of seasoning hold the table:
Checkmate.

XIII

The unassuming egg,
Once a plain hardboiled thing,
Becomes glamorous
When powdered with a petite
Pinch
Of salt and pepper.