A Variation on a Recipe

by Ray Ball

There is not a single clean knife in my kitchen, so I have to use 
my nails to peel the garlic. I spent days learning all the words for different

species of plants and birds in a language I dream of speaking fluently— 
truthfully, if you asked me, in my mother tongue, to identify

trees in the arboretum or to point to a rose of Sharon I would 
still fail your test. Exotic and domestic birds in the bestiary cry out,

begging me to recognize their songs, to pluck them by the neck 
from my deck of cards. Pliny wrote about the partridge: 

all this libidinous bird wants to do is to fuck and fuck. I don’t 
believe I’ve ever tasted partridge, but I have heard its meat is bland, 

so, even though it’s chicken I’m cooking, I mince several cloves.


Ray Ball currently lives on the land of the Dena’ina, where she works as a history professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is the author of four books, including the chapbooks Tithe of Salt (Louisiana Literature, 2019) and Lararium (Variant Lit, 2020). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including descant, GlassOrange Blossom Review, and Waccamaw and have received multiple nominations for Pushcart and Best of the Net. She is an associate editor at Coffin Bell and an assistant editor at Juke Joint. You can find her on Twitter @ProfessorBall.