Cabbage

If smells were colors,
That stench was sea-foam green.
But this sheen, over time,
Darkened to grasshopper-spittle brown.

Things had changed.

Once, a fresh breeze
Like newly washed sheets
Wafted over Rexburg.

But now the ripening aroma
Rattled my concentration
Forced me to notice nothing more.

What was that caustic odor
That stung my eye,
That ubiquitous scent,
Which, like an Indian dye,
Stained everything
And everywhere it went?

Susan solved the puzzle,
And named the purple fumes.
They oozed from Professor Barry O. Harry,
From his fevered habits and ways.

His sweat, breath, bowels, and pores,
More than this,
His books and stores
Colored what Brother Harry had become.

As yet, I had never met this inglorious teacher,
This boiling beaker
Of distilled fanaticism.

But plugging my nose
And forgetting my fear,
My sophomore year,
I registered for Cabbage 101.

When Dr. Harry floated in,
My lights flickered out.
The sun set
As his pungent gloom
Seeped into every corner of the room.

Now I could only see with my nose.

For thirty-seven years,
This one-food scholar
Ate nothing more than cabbage.
He crunched, slurped, and burped it every meal.

For variety, it was fried;
For the vitamins, it was tried raw.

Now, in his lectures,
Barry O. Harry insisted we
Eat, study, and interpret cabbage
Exactly as he.

Tilting slightly,
The master carried his angular frame
On the oblique.
I see him now, boney and rigid,
Shuffling slowly to the podium.
Standing silently for one minute,
Lifting lightly his broad nose to sniff the air.

Then, after adjusting his voice and glasses,
After looking sternly to the left and right,
The pompous chap was ready for a cabbage fight.

His gift was to know,
At any one moment,
God's mind and will as it related to cabbage.

I'll grant Dr. Harry this
He helped me kiss
This wonderful food.

But he only ate cabbage.
He only brewed,
Stewed,
And baked cabbage.

The chap needed some Dostoevsky steak,
Some Flannery O'Connor tomatoes,
Some Nathaniel Hawthorne turnips,
Some Seamus Heaney pie.

Did he know science,
The arts, the humanities?
No.
If he had eaten a balanced diet,
He would not have stunk so.

2000 Allen Hackworth