30 Poems in November: Your Turkey Day Reminder

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Here is today’s poem for your enjoyment. Have a tasty holiday!

Ode to Butternut Squash

Butternut squash, you are the War and Peace of vegetables.
So heavy, traditional, symbolic of grand ambitions unfulfilled.
Delusional, even, like Napoleon’s drive to conquer Russia,
which is what I assume Tolstoy’s classic is about,
though like most Americans tucking into their giblets this holiday,
I’ve never cracked the book on display in my living room.
Butternut squash, is this your destiny too?
Like the little Corsican exiled on Elba,
will you shrivel and sag in my refrigerator,
Thanksgiving come and gone, nothing to hope for
except that this time I’ll mean it when I glimpse you
behind the milk and say to myself,
“I really should cook that before it goes bad”?
Butternut squash, my knife shrinks from sawing into your rind,
your brute firmness, flesh pink and unmarked,
sized to give Anna Karenina the shivers.
I do not have the conquering spirit.
Because I am afraid, butternut squash,
that even if I can cut you in half without losing a finger,
and you yield your virgin territory
to be encrusted with sugared pecans like a Fabergé egg,
and I find the patience to bake you at 350 degrees
for longer than it takes to say “Andrei Nikolaevich Bolkonsky”,
my guests, who have never starved in the siege of Moscow,
will not be grateful for your sacrifice
and fill up on pie instead.

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