After Callimachus

Stephanie Burt


(Hecale, 248)

I wish you wouldn’t yell at me for trying.
       Brown olives should be picked before they are ripe;
pale olives are good for lamb stew, but must be pitted,
                      then stored in brine.
People are different, too; when the bitter
       black olive, determined to keep
                      its shape, insists
it shouldn’t be crushed with the green ones,
        good cooks know it isn’t malingering, or lying.

Stephanie Burt is a professor of English at Harvard University. She is the author of four poetry collections and, among other books, Don’t Read Poetry: A Book About How to Read Poems.

Image: Olive. From The Smithsonian.