Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Turtle Cure

Found, floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,
on a scroll of parchment curled in a bottle of sea glass,
the following:
Take the pistle of a green turtle, which lives in the sea,
dry it with a moderate heat, pound it in a mortar to powder,
and take of this as much as will lye upon a shilling, in beer or
the like ale or white wine, and in a very short time it will do the cure.1

Of all Malinda’s recipes, this is the one that wounds.
First, seduce a green turtle. This will require an adept manipulation
of scent and sound. Do not introduce terror: it will corrupt the meat.
Jasmine flowers crushed in bourbon is a soothing lure. Alternatively,
stalk the swamp with a crossbow. The terroir will be thick with nutria.
Do not be tempted to substitute; simmering will not silken their flesh.
A spearfisher can free dive 100 feet with one breath, which she will expel
before loosing her harpoon.

When I spoon the peat-brown broth into my mouth, it burns a sore tucked
deep in my left gum, an instant allergen that recalls an outing with my parents,
dressed in Sunday best to breakfast at Brennans—after the Vieux CarrĂ© is
drowned by rising waters Loggerheads will reclaim the culinary institution’s tablecloths
and toast twinkling glasses of claret with Hawksbills—where I had a similar reaction
to their famed first course: turtle soup with sherry and hot pepper sauce.

Uncanny, the resemblance between the original, which appears on page six
under “to impress” and the proven remedy for kidney stones all the rage
in the seventeenth century, which is to say, from Barbados to Liverpool
no turtle went uncastrated.  

1 From Richard Ligon’s A True & Exact History of the Island of Barbados (1657).

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