The Demise Of Camembert

I remember my mother squeezing
the camembert. She bought it five days

before unwrapping it, unwrapped it
two hours before she served it.

But what the French sociologist calls
la déstructurisation of family meals

means there's no more patience
for ripening on the cold shelf.

This message comes to us
on a tray with quick-serve cheddar puffs

passed across the cocktail party,
across news networks via satellite.

Also it lands thudding with the flat bread,
bean salad, raisins, fruit bar,

seedless jam and plastic cutlery
in the humanitarian airdrop.

Pah! A man rejects the bland cheese couplets.
And the premoistened serviette.

In this world he fears annihilation.
This world has made him a nihilist.

Now he sits on a bed, on the bedspread
in a motel on the edge of Las Vegas

or a hotel near Narita Airport,
eating an engineered salty snack,

planning deaths designed his way,
getting more and more thirsty.

So hear me. Compassion begins in the pasture.
Adoration of cow breed, grass strain,

the certain season for milking,
the way the curd is cut and pressed

and salted and cured and shaped,
the time and temperature at each stage.

The marketing man from Coeur-de-Lion,
the number-one brand of camembert,

is revising the résumé of his ripe life.
And you and I, paring away the rind,

do you and I have a patient nose
for the creamy inwardness of things?

by Ron Slate

Other poems of SLATE (8)

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