I saw a friend of mine whom I rarely see anymore. We used to work closely together and were in each others’ company continually throughout the workday. I had an office next to hers, a class across the hall from her, and, at one time, a homeroom within her clay studio.
But times change, careers take different paths, and schedules get more and more hectic. And so, I rarely see her at all, maybe three or four times a quarter.
But I saw her a few weeks ago and she told me that she had spent that Sunday–a lovely, rainy fall day– making mushroom soup while the television in front of her ran the Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy film, Desk Set.
The combination of the two intrigued me. And so I came up with the title “To a Woman Watching Desk Set while Making Mushroom Soup.” I loved it. I had nothing else but the title, but I loved the contrast of a fog of steam from a soup pot and the clarity of Hepburn and Tracy (in their first color film together.)
I played with the title for a while and then with the idea. I combined soup recipes with snippets from the film and with my own take on that legendary Hollywood couple.
I had my poem where I thought I wanted, and so I decided to make a film.
So here it is, enjoy. It is a work in progress in a technique that I am completely new at. (But I am enjoying it madly.)
Several years ago, I published a poem called “Tomak Stuffing” in an anthology called A Magical Summer. The beginnings of the poem had come from a quirky misreading. It was around Thanksgiving and someone had left me a text saying that she was going “tomak stuffing.” She had texted hurriedly and meant to say that she was going “to make stuffing.”
I didn’t immediately pick up the mistake and asked her what indeed was actually involved in “tomak stuffing.”
Later, I decided to run with it, to make an entire world where “tomak stuffing” was an actual and important ritual, filled with wives’ tales and traditional lore
The poem was published in 2012.
I’d been thinking of the poem recently, so this week I put together a short four-minute video with various photos/paintings, with Enya’s version of “Na Laetha Geal M’óige” in the background and with me reading the poem itself.
I think of it as a Thanksgiving poem, but it really isn’t.
So here it is Tomak Stuffing: the video for your enjoyment:
Ulysses sailing west
illustration 2013 by jpbohannon
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson