POEM WITH A CUCUMBER IN IT
by Robert Haas
Sometimes from this hillside just after sunset
The rim of the sky takes on a tinge
Of the palest green, like the flesh of a cucumber
When you peel it carefully.
In Crete once, in the summer,
When it was still hot at midnight,
We sat in a taverna by the water
Watching the squid boats rocking in the moonlight,
Drinking retsina and eating salads
Of cool, chopped cucumber and yogurt and a little dill.
A hint of salt, something like starch, something
Like an attar of grasses or green leaves
On the tongue is the tongue
And the cucumber
Evolving toward each other.
Since cumbersome is a word,
Cumber must have been a word,
Lost to us now, and even then,
For a person feeling encumbered,
It must have felt orderly and right-minded
To stand at a sink and slice a cucumber.
If you think I am going to make
A sexual joke in this poem,
you are mistaken.
In the old torment of the earth
When the fires were cooling and disposing themselves
Into granite and limestone and serpentine and shale,
It is possible to imagine that, under yellowish chemical clouds,
The molten froth, having burned long enough,
Was already dreaming of release,
And that the dream, dimly
But with increasing distinctness, took the form
Of water, and that it was then, still more dimly, that it imagined
The dark green skin and opal green flesh of cucumbers.
Now it's your turn to "feel orderly and right-minded" -- this week's novel potluck recipe turns that chopped cucumber into a cool, frothy beverage, perfect for the end of the work day.
Cucumber Agua Fresca
Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit
4 1/2 cups coarsely chopped seeded peeled cucumbers (about 4 medium)
4 cups cold water
2 cups ice cubes
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 large pinches of salt
additional ice cubes
1. Combine 2 1/4 cups chopped cucumbers, 2 cups water, 1 cup ice cubes, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup lime juice, and 1 pinch of salt in blender. Blend until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth but slushy, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to pitcher.
2. Repeat with remaining chopped cucumbers, 2 cups water, 1 cup ice cubes, sugar, lime juice, and salt. Add to pitcher.
3. Place additional ice cubes in 8 glasses. Fill with cucumber drink.