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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Oaxaca Tamale

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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Oaxaca Tamale

David C. Hammond | Nov 24, 2002 04:38 PM

THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT A OAXACA TAMALE
Maxwell Street Market, November 24, 2002

I
Among a hundred stalls,
The only one that sang to me,
Was Oaxaca Tamal.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a plate,
On which there are three tamales.

III
The tamale was the still point
In a swirling Sunday market.

IV
A man and a tamale
Are one.
A man and a tamale and a beer
Are one.

V
I do no know which I prefer,
The beauty of the taste,
Or the beauty of satiety;
The tamale being eaten,
Or just after.

VI
Tamales fill the silver chest.
Green bricks of goodness;
My own was withdrawn,
And, lifted to me on a plate,
Its unfolding aroma
Raised in me
An unquenchable hunger.

VII
O thin tamales of Tom Tom,
How dare you present yourselves to me!
Do you not know that the Oaxaca tamale
Is the bright sun under which you
Slither, pale yellow shadows?

VIII
I know fine words
And laughing lines
But I know too
That the Oaxaca tamale is involved
In what I do.

IX
When the first tamale disappeared from my plate,
It marked the first
Of many more.

X
With the scent of Oaxaca tamales
Drifting on the wind,
Even the bland children of Banquet
Rise up and drool for their deliciousness.

XI
He rode through the Oak Park night
In a silver car.
Once, a fierce hunger pierced him
In that he mistook
The blurred green moon
For a Oaxaca tamale.

XII
The belly is groaning.
The tamale is steaming.

XIII
It was dinnertime all afternoon.
I was hungry,
And I was going to be hungry.
The Oaxaca tamale opened
Across my plate, waiting.

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