Noelle Sickels 


My first artichoke 
bloomed on its plate 
like a sea plant, 
petals steamed open, 
green shadow cups, 
secret flesh. 

I had to watch you 
to learn how to eat 
how to pull off leaves, 
scrape teeth and lips 
across tough skin, 
reap the meat. 

The soft inner flaps 
purple-edged, pale 
wrapped the deadly choke, 
tufted, lethal feathers 
hid a waiting heart, 
tender, thick. 

You whisked it away 
sliced back the tendrils 
poised to strangle, 
presented the naked heart 
doused in fresh butter, 

I thought you'd saved my life 
ushered me through danger 
into luscious pleasure, 
and every artichoke since 
renews the old challenge: 
risk or starve. 

Copyright 2000, Noelle Sickels 

Noelle Sickels is the author of two historical novels from St. Martin's Press: Walking West (1995) and The Shopkeeper's Wife (1998). 

Switched-on Gutenberg/Vol. 4, No. 2 
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