Reading: Notes For The Legend Of Salad Woman by Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje (b. 1943) is a famous Canadian writer who was born in Sri-Lankan and moved to Canada when he was 18. He is well known for his novel The English Patient. I read a vegan poem here because I like its premise:

Notes For The Legend Of Salad Woman
Since my wife was born
she must have eaten
the equivalent of two-thirds
of the original garden of Eden.
Not the dripping lush fruit
or the meat in the ribs of animals
but the green salad gardens of that place.
The whole arena of green
would have been eradicated
as if the right filter had been removed
leaving only the skeleton of coarse brightness.

All green ends up eventually
churning in her left cheek.
Her mouth is a laundromat of spinning drowning herbs.
She is never in fields
but is sucking the pith out of grass.
I have noticed the very leaves from flower decorations
grow sparse in their week long performance in our house.
The garden is a dust bowl.

On our last day in Eden as we walked out
she nibbled the leaves at her breasts and crotch.
But there’s none to touch
none to equal
the Chlorophyll Kiss

What a great observation connecting the biblical Garden of Eden with the amount of vegetables a grown person would have eaten in her life. I don’t know the acreage of Eden, nor do I know how much salad was in it. Biblical: he mentions the meat in the ribs of the animals – if you are a woman, created of Adam’s rib, you are in a way the meat inside the animals’ ribs.

Then we imagine the garden of Eden without the green, like a photographic filter has been removed (not applied!), interesting imagination. So, the woman appears to be a goat (this poem could be considered not kindly towards the muslim faith, so be it) munching on every green leave she can find, even sucking the pith out of grass – and leaving the garden a dust bowl.

And of course, the leaves of shame are the last ones to be eaten. What does it mean there is none to touch? Isn’t he right next to her? Why can’t he compete with the chlorophyll kiss? Or is she the one kissing, does the chlorophyll kiss stand for her eating the leaves? Once outside of Eden she should change her lifestyle. Is there a connection with Steinbeck’s Eden and the great dust bowl?

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