Seventeen years, mostly ignored. Finally,
we learnt to press the olives from our tree into oil,
a process which widens out
into a world of infinite connections:
the universe of stars
and dust. Such that I hardly know how to say what we did.
Perhaps, like Homer, we’ll discover in writing
something smarter than ourselves.
First, we blitzed
the olives in a food processor, which bounced on the bench,
rattling and shrill-screaming, as it spun the hard stones
and oily flesh into a khaki mash
that smelt divine,
like the dark loamy earth
between the thighs of Papatuanuku.
we scooped into a large pot and heated, until
this indelicate mixture began sparkling like morning dew
on a pile of dung.
You can thank the sun
for sending water to the mountains, and for it
back into our laps,
though it took men like my grandfather wielding the levers
to build the dams
with steel cracked from red earth, combined with gravel
and cement squeezed from soft grey clay;
the hill at Portland almost gone.
And all this flows
to the turning of the press
made from ageless aluminium, everywhere and nowhere
in the Earth’s crust, journeying now into space…
and held tight
in our hands, to wrench the oily liquid from its fibrous body,
as alumina is wrenched from bauxite
using the holding power of alpine lakes.
Oil rises to the top,
best left overnight in a jar that you can dip
a ladle into and funnel through muslin cloth.
What’s left behind is an acerbic liquid any gardener
will deploy with pleasure
to cut off those obstreperous weeds in mid-growth.
In a ceramic jug the oil will stay peppery to taste;
a wealth stored, to be drizzled
on the familial bread,
and spilling over
onto the plate bounded
by its raised rim.
With the last pieces of bread,
we soaked up the thin pools of golden oil
and licked our glistening fingers—
like shining Gods we are, for a moment.