The battered pickup’s bed
is a cornucopia
overflowing with sweet potatoes,
long tapered tubers
irregular and glorious as clouds
backlit by an orange sunset,
headed for roadside stand or market
or maybe back to Europe
where Spanish explorers, just home
from the New World, introduced them
half a millennium ago
as batatas, possessed (they insisted)
of aphrodisiacal powers,
which later inspired son-hungry Henry VIII
to import huge quantities
and gorge himself on sweet potatoes
baked into pie after pie
the way my father’s mother cooked them,
with light brown sugar
and cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves,
those spices teasing the warmth
out of the smooth meat
that had banked its glowing coal
underground all summer long,
waiting to feed the family
and every famished ancestor
with elemental sweetness,
filling our mouths
with temporary plenty
bite after bite.

:: Michael McFee, Shinemaster (2006)

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