Acquired Tastes

Sweet as the gift of sunlight
on snowy mornings in midwinter,
the garden spread like caster sugar,
the harvest table gilded in honey,
the carpet in our hallway raspberry –
you mix my senses to your tastes
so apples remind me of laughter.

Sour is an evening when snow falls,
when the wind puckers our faces
with the cold surprise of limes,
cheeks pinched at the medicine of time:
for what cures us of our coughs
tastes worldly with its weary news.

We have learned to swallow bitterness,
times when even the best-laid plans
vanished on the tips of our tongues
and made us want to spit out life
in search of something else to swallow;
for hardship is an acquired taste;
it passes but leaves a memory of fear.

Salty is knowledge we’ve had to learn,
the tang of sweat, the bite of sorrow,
the knife that every mouth must feel,
the sea, the spray of heavy waves on shore,
heavenly in teardrops on your naked arms
as I dried you and we wept together.

But the meat of life, the savory we know,
the test of truth as we test each other,
regardless of sunlight or rough weather –
that taste is why we share our hearts,
the fine, warm course lived hour by hour –
the evening meal that sustains each day:
come share with me this feast of life.

Bruce Meyer

Bruce Meyer is author or editor of 64 books of poetry, short fiction, flash fiction, non-fiction, and literary journalism. He is the 2019 winner of the Anton Chekhov Prize for Flash Fiction, the Freefall Prize for Poetry, and was a finalist in the Tom Gallon Trust Fiction Prize and the Bath Short Story Prize. His most recent books are McLuhan's Canary (Guernica Editions) and Pressing Matters: The Story of Black Moss Press (Black Moss Press). Both will appear in October. His previous books include The First Taste: New and Selected Poems (Black Moss Press, 2018) and the short story collection, A Feast of Brief Hopes (Guernica Editions, 2018). A book of essays about his works will appear in 2020 along with a collection of flash fiction, Down in the Ground (both from Guernica Editions). He lives in Barrie, Ontario.