14 November 2006


"Batter my heart, three-personed God" John Donne

When I first heard, "Batter my heart,"
I thought of shrimp
The way my grandmother would make them
--Fried shrimp from Savannah--
With a fine coating of flour, sealing in the flavor,
And a little salt and pepper.
Crunchy but still juicy.

Or the way my mother would fry fish
With corn meal so that the aroma of cornbread
And seafood mingled together sharp and sweet and filled the house
With anticipation because "we're going to have a fish-fry,"
And all arguments are put on hold for food the way they do it only down South.

All this batter would indeed affect a heart.

And then I realized that batter wasn't meant that way.
It wasn't a prayer for coating.
It was a prayer more brutal.

I never expected until halfway through the sonnet
That a hostile takeover of soul
Could be more beautiful than those memories.

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