Ruth Maassen
Joy of Cooking

I did a lot of hunting for the joy
those first few years I was married,
when I was still trying to cook. Joy
was not in the index. Larks were,
litchis, woodchucks, königsberger klops,
when all I was looking for was supper,
flipping through the pages, my anxiety
mounting. Allow the turtle to cool
on its back
. Bananas in blankets?
Kidneys en brochette? The authors'
admonitory purr (evisceration need not
be a messy job)
is marred with frantic-
looking spills. My notes, in faint pencil:
"Pan too small." "Egg curdled." "Awful!"
Stuffed boar's head (with eyes, teeth
and brains intact)
? Helpful instructions
for skinning a rabbit, skinning a squirrel.
My ex-husband's notes, in darker,
more confident pencil, are preserved,
and a speck of green pepper from 1982.
I'll never try cockscombs skinned
and fried, but it's good to know
what to do with a peccary (immediately
after killing, remove the musk glands),

that bear, like pork, can carry trichinosis,
that if necessity ever forces me to eat
a crow it must be parblanched first,
that, as I learned one February day,
carob fudge "burns easily but even burnt
it tastes all right (if you're desperate)."