hillary keel | writing

cooking risotto (or why i love my life)

—a new recipe small pieces
of asparagus & shrimp lemon juice
prepared in separate pan & I think
of G.—when did I last cook risotto when
did I last eat asparagus in March
of which year

I am transported to Austrian spring
crispy temperature a field of brooks
where we pick birds’ lettuce
we hike we cook
there is sex there is spring
& asparagus some cress &
birds’ lettuce picked at the brook
I stir risotto & think how this recipe
diverges from G.’s—to place inch-sized
asparagus pieces in bowl of ice water
I’ll try but remember

the warm bed & kitchen asparagus
on dishes on linen now I add shrimp
& garlic lemon juice—
like the good food we had & this
takes my breath away—how food
was good how he disliked the
way I chopped anything—he couldn’t
tolerate my kitchen skills but the food
was good linen fresh the bed warm
& the brook ice cold in the ice cold

the image welling the time
I gave—the joy of—

how I am in Brooklyn
my own job & bag full of books how he’d
wear an apron w/his name stitched on
by the girlfriend before me the one
he’d devastated & betrayed before me
no betrayal it was an open relationship
though she’d given him all before
I was ready to bear
his young

the food now in Brooklyn
Austrian radio streams online
I find comfort in those voices
& references to U.S. culture

food on American bubble plates
news turns to program
on misunderstood songs:

The Police: I’ll Be Watching You
as I eat shrimp asparagus risotto
“eine krankhafte, einseitige Liebe”
the Austrian journalist explains as if
no one had noticed that before—well
maybe not the Austrians
but who cares?

I am a senior in college at parties
dancing to this song who cares
about the disease it’s a fucking
great song & soon I’ll fall for the
Virginia townie who hangs out on
campus where he wears a bandana
and plays Frisbee he’s a local carpenter
& though I study German & want to depart
I fall for this man’s grin who takes me to
West Virginia in his truck with the dog
in the back it is spring in West Virginia
down rural curvy road & blooming apple
trees & I can’t believe my eyes to be in
that back woods place & so stoned I cannot
speak & so in love with this man I never
want to leave any sort of Virginia

then Austrian radio goes to another
misunderstood song & its No Woman
No Cry & the journalist explains why
people misunderstand this song & I’m
eating shrimp risotto drunk on garlic
& lemon juice on a Monday afternoon
& there’s my Nigerian friend Dele who
taught me to eat with my hands in Vienna
explaining this song—doesn’t everyone know
this?—the singer consoles a woman

how consoled I was at the America Latina
where Dele sang w/ his reggae band
on Mollardgasse in the 6th district
where the drugs were as my neo-liberal
anti-foreigner family explained
so I went right there & these
drugs were NOTHING like in the states
& I was consoled by a wee bit of ‘shit’ (sheet)
& the reggae music & the Chilean waiter
who I’d make out with on my way to the WC

& today it’s shrimp risotto
as good risotto should be
this funny recipe minus linen cloth
plus paper clips & graded essays
but the food & the music

this is what I love—have loved about my life.