- Vanilla (A Herstory)
Vanilla (A Herstory)
From loam, climb poles— also known as “tutors”—the leaves x-ing the vines like sutures or fleshy scars. What they never wanted
us to know: bees have other business. For easy pollination, the hand’s always been the best.
A splint or blade is less clumsy, lifting up the flap. Then the whole process before the market: kill,
sweat, dehydrate. Give it grades. Vanilla or “little pod,” comes out of Latin’s “vagina.”
It was everywhere in that girls’ locker room, its cloy masking dead grass, B.O. and dirty pads—everyone kept
spray in the locker. The most popular method was to pump a cloud in front of you, then run through it like a sprinkler. [End Page 110]
We had two good thoughts on winning boys: 1. breasts 2. smell like food. I had to shake my bottle hard; it always wafted less
like cake, more like a fifth of Malibu. I heard that Cortes stole it. For this wild orchid a twelve-year-old slave
taught himself to smear, by hand, stigmas with anther dust. And that was just
the beginning for him: soon, all women anointed, dabbed extract behind their ears.
It’s expensive and labor- intensive, this crop of pods, narrow ladyfingers. Poor us, not
remembering our own greed that made the cake & smut bath & candles. In the end, I blame myself
for being so boring in bed. If you want me, I’ll be in the kitchen. I must make something more of myself. [End Page 111]
Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers is the author of Chord Box (U of Arkansas P), finalist for the Miller Williams Prize. Recent work appears in POOL, Crazyhorse, FIELD, Crab Orchard Review, and other journals. She lives in rural Ohio and is currently an inaugural Kenyon Review Fellow.