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In Between Cooking

A page of Ben Okri's poem "Lines on a Drawing"
Poem by Ben Okri. (Image of Emmaline Swallow)

Between waiting for the oil in the pan to be warmed up

and throwing in the chopped garlic

I read

“for every music heard

there are tears unheard”

It was only 20 seconds

but enough for the soldered seams in my bitter-cold heart

to crack, to widen, to yield

to let in the words

“when one can’t sing

when one can’t sing

there is a bird

that dies

as if flies”

The world keeps singing

I keep flying

And the poets keep writing

to teach my heart

the act of drawing one breath after another

without ceasing

In between stirring the vegetables

and waiting for them to wilt

A poet heard my falling tears through a time slip

I found myself at the right spot, at the right time, with the right words

with minuscule hope

to sustain me

for another minute

right by my humble hot stove


This poem was originally published with The Lark on Medium where poems and short fictions live and thrive.

The bold italic words are of the poet Ben Okri in the poem “Lines on a Drawing” from his book “A Fire in My Head”. I recently came across this book and couldn’t put it down, resulting in me reading it in between cooking. I tore through the book with a hungry ferocity, gasped and cried, and cried and gasped some more.

If you want to know what makes a master of words, please read Ben Okri.


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