So little of my childhood is available to me in memory. My first thought was the "green stuff" that tasted so awful, even over a spoonful of sugar. But this was supposed to be a good taste, not a medicine. And then I thought: crab.
We would catch our own crabs -- I hated that because I hated being outside (I'd rather be inside reading). But we would go to what was once Pleasure Pier (in Port Arthur, Texas), walking out on the concrete steps holding back the water until we came to a good, empty section, hopefully with high reeds behind it. We'd tie string to the reeds and to chunks of meat and throw the meat into the water. When a crab nibbled, the string would go taut and we'd sweep a net under the meat AND the greedy crab holding onto the meat for dear life. I could never get a crab out of a net, so Daddy always had to do it. We'd take the crabs home and boil them.
How sweet the meat of the crab was, once you got to it. But you had to work hard for it, as the crab's shell held on tightly to its precious cargo. Mother took the meat from the claws (which I had cracked with a knife and a nutcracker to disgorge the flavorful meat) to make gumbo or she would fry the whole crab or use it in a kind of stew. Someone -- a Cajun neighbor, perhaps? -- had shown her how to make roux, and the crab's main body would sit on a pile of rice covered with roux. What a taste -- indescribable and, to me, to this day, unrepeatable.
Heaven must be like this -- not the hard work but the sweet taste of the meat, combined with the rough taste of the roux and a possible piece of bay leaf that got overlooked.
I must begin by saying that I have never written poetry in my life except for one poem I wrote for a college class many years ago, and I certainly was never a big fan of poetry. That's why -- in the fall of 2013 -- I nearly didn't go to a retreat where the theme was going to be spirituality in poetry. Ugh.
But a friend convinced me to go, and it was marvelous! In fact, I found out two things in going:
It all came about when our leader introduced us to a great poet who writes in paragraphs. It had never occurred to me that a poem could be a paragraph. We were invited to write a paragraph about the most wonderful taste we could remember (and maybe even something about who made it or how it was prepared) and then write about what heaven might taste like. I was amazed at what I wrote. Even though it was in paragraph form, I used much more poetic language than normal.
I was also influenced by a book I was reading at the time: Writing Your Life. The author encouraged the reader to write short little pieces about his/her life. What I wrote that day combined those two endeavors into what I have since discovered is sometimes called Poetic Prose. Since then I've written more Poetry Prose, most of it very personal. Below is that first effort from the retreat: