Twenty-one Carat Corn

by Lennox V. Farrell

L'il Nnaumbua has one appetite
For Cornmeal porridge,
And relish it
As much as sucking
An unwitting tube of toothpaste.

There’s something zesty 'bout cornmeal.

It gets the other children
Frisky, too
Cooked or raw
Corn keeps a healthy tone:
Yellow and granular,
Baptised in goat's milk cold,
To stop the grains huddling
When initiated into the fiery,
Dancing sweet water.

Then, golden and molten,
‘specially when boiled
With a sprinkling of
Brown, gratered nutmeg,
Like freckles bubbling
In volcanic ecstasy,
Making sweet-mouth kisses:
Hot, nutricious, expanding,
Forming, reforming, congealing
In heat;
Cooking, puddling, viscuous
And licking for mouthfuls
Of condensed milk to enrich
What was already rich...

...before the agonies of the Amerindians:
The Maya, the Beothuk, the Azteca ...

Nnaumbua likes porridge too,
From through top holes in the raggedy milk tin
You swirl into its many mouths
An eager slurp of evaporated milk:
A creamy honey, entwining
Voluptuously like molasses;
Settling on excited taste buds
With the lust
Of Forbidden fruit:
Desired, anticipating ...

Cornmeal porridge is people food.

Corn, yellow and yellow
Has exchanged continents -
>From forest and amazon and ochre
To artery.
Ask Montezuma.
Answer, Pizarro. Answer!
Feel it pulse in conquistador veins;
See it nuh in Sea Dog's eyes:
Drake, Raleigh, Elizabethan ...
The Renaissance gleam

Firing the creation of El Dorado
And a deranged quest
For an unholy Grail;
Ambushing on the way
Cultures ancient with ritual;
Civilizing them into museums:
Wasting as mausoleums;
Callous as vaults,
For audited receipts.

Destroying what was real
For what is religious;

Replacing what is spiritual
With what was parochial.

And then, in guile,
Futile, hoisting lies
To try and sail against aesthetics and

But cornmeal is ital food.
Yellow, molten, native and strategic,
Maize is still here,
A hundred million Original peoples strong,
From chill, cold hands over Patagonia
To the Arctic Circling the Dancing Lights.

Maize is El Dorado;
Always was,
And Amerindian children; and
Descendants of enslaved Africans,
Savour this,
Building stamina for the duration.

Twenty-one Carat Corn by Lennox V. Farrell

© Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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