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 the author of 70 books of short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. His stories have won or been shortlisted for numerous national and international prizes including this year's Lynn Fraser Fiction Prize from Freefall, the Fish Fiction Prize (IRE), the Bath Short Story Prize, the Carter V. Cooper Prize for Fiction, and a special Editor's commendation from the Edinburgh Flash Fiction Prize, His most recent collections of fiction are "Toast Soldiers" (Crowsnest Books), "Down in the Ground" (Guernica Editions) and the forthcoming collection of flash fiction, "Sweet Things" (Mosaic Press), and a collection of longer stories, "Magnetic Dogs" (Guernica). With Michael Mirolla, he co-edited the forthcoming anthology, "This Will Only Take a Minute" (Guernica) which is the first Canadian anthology of flash fiction. He lives in Barrie, Ontario, and is Professor of Communications at Georgian College.