Size / / /

He named it in Latin and the corrupted,

conquering tongue of the conquistadors:

food of the gods.

Bitter,

as though what it meant across the sea,

what it meant before the blood spilled,

was an omen.

Bitter,

when he drank it,

if he drank it,

sweetened with sugar and vanilla,

doctoral son of the pale northeast.

Food of the gods,

when he studied to the sounds of church bells,

and his students would buy it in pastries for breakfast,

take home waxen blocks

from the land of clocks and milk maids

unvisited by feathered serpents

and say how nice to get it from the source.

But the single origin is in the name,

mangled and shrivelled as things are steeped in salt:

cacao.

Hold it in the back of your throat

like an offering to offended gods,

thick as blood,

sharp as brine,

and bitter.




J. C. Runolfson is a Rhysling-nominated poet whose work has appeared before in Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, and Not One of Us, among others. She comes from a long line of sailors and fishermen, and the sea strongly influences her work. Her livejournal is Waterlogged, and you can find more of her previous work in our archives.
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20 Jan 2020

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