Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I had to shove the knife hard to get it through the orange rind, but then it slid in sweetly and refused to come back out. I wrestled it in and out, pressing always downward, to sever this pumpkin. The cuts curved and did not meet, so I pried the two sides apart by hand. The pumpkin snapped when they finally separated. Fifteen pounds of golden flesh lay there, dwarfing the cutting board. The shattered edges of the broken globe begged to be carved, shaped, like a block of marble waiting to become a sculptor's vision.

After an hour in the oven, though, the pumpkin was transformed. The rind darkened, the flesh brightened. Fluid had oozed out and now pooled in the bottom of the pan. The yellow marble had melted into orange flesh. Now my fork could pierce it and slip smoothly out. I left the pumpkin to cool.

When I scooped and scraped the flesh off the skin later, the pumpkin was still warm. I was eviscerating this vegetable, and it was even bleeding hot juices into the pan, spurting all over my hands. The yellow flesh scrolled up before my advancing spoon. It piled up inside the uneven half-globe, in curls and chunks. Setting aside the spoon, I plunged my hands into the warm pumpkin innards and squeezed. Yellow spurted out between my fingers; the chunks yielded to my grip. The pumpkin was hot in my hands. As I squeezed it, it slithered across my skin, oozing warm water filled with yellow strands. When I opened my hands, the pumpkin lay on my palms in a golden lump, ridged with the relief of my fingers.

Some things never change. In my mother's kitchen, I was a child who played with the egg yolks, loving their silken slide across my skin. In my own kitchen now, I am still a child playing with the pumpkin, loving its lumps and slime and its golden hue. The pumpkin needed to be puréed, smoothed, homogenized; my hands needed to squeeze, press, touch. Yes, I can rationalize this tactile extravagance. Thank goodness I don't have a blender to steal the joy of feeling my food.

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