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Annotation for June Brown Study


Notice the juxtaposition between being broke and "making". The expression "making due" comes to mind.

Notice, too, the tension set up between not having money and making or creating. This is a larger thread throughout the poem.

Here the speaker is pretending Anthony Bourdain is cooking next to them. This goes a little beyond the usual behavior of listening to a show, book, recipe, or podcast while cooking. By letting the reader know they are not just listening and cooking, but actively imagining a person in the kitchen with them, the speaker is really telling us about their needs. When they're cooking, they want to feel connected to someone, even if that someone is a disembodied voice. Like the previous stanza, we see a tension between ideas at play: feeling lonely (or empty) and cooking (or feeding).

Here the speaker expands upon the notion set out in the first vignette: generosity has little to do with means. Despite omelets being a 'last resort' meal, and despite being in dire enough straights that the speaker is surviving off the meal for an entire summer, she's hosting friends, and feeding them. There's no shame in this speaker's hospitality game either--she is not a broke-cuisine apologist.

Notice the shifts we see beginning with this stanza. We've moved from ground setting to narrative exposition. The speaker is remembering. Notice the speaker is not alone, she has someone to cook with: Xavier. Notice, too, that the speaker is working with Duck Eggs. Duck eggs are richer in flavor and more expensive than chicken eggs; they're also harder to find. These context clues could indicate the speaker's economic situation has changed but she's still making an omelet so it might be safer to assume that she's still strapped financially but splurged, for this occasion.

Note what the speaker zeroed in on: distance. Does this say more about Xavier, or the speaker? How does that read change after the next line?

Again notice the presence of labor, and note here how the author makes a distinction between what is and what isn't labor: work is labor, the things that prompt griping and drinking are labor--but the cooking of an omelet--even one that takes a half dozen eggs--that is not labor. Even though the cooking and the drinking and the eating leads the speaker to "losing" hours, they're hours spent not-laboring, and that counts for something in the world Satchell has created.

The recurrence of labor and work and working class-ness as a theme is fitting considering the epigraph and Anthony Bourdain's entire ethos.

There are a lot of foods you can feed someone who is leaving veganism. The egg is an interesting choice. Remember this line as you read through the written commentary.

Notice the way Satchell builds repetition without repeating herself. We know from the previous stanza that Corrine was a vegan but quit. In this stanza, the same person does a "summer fade away" before abandoning the speaker completely. Veganism, like friendship, is a lifestyle commitment, and this person shirks their commitments.

In contrast: our speaker does not. In this reflective vignette--which notably starts in a fresh column (new start)--the speaker lets us know that she and Corrine stopped talking "for a year." Here is a more subtle repetition Satchell has woven into this arc: the speaker was there for Corrine after she abandoned her commitment to veganism, and she was presumably there for Corrine after she got over her "summer fade away" (as implied by the "for a year"). Satchell's speaker is loyal.

Pay special attention to the tenses in this verse.

In this verse, the term "as though" is doing a lot of heavy work. The wisdom in reflection jumps right out in this vignette. "As though" lets us know the speaker who is talking to us in this poem is not the same girl who made all these omeletes, and although she has no regrets, the razor sharp language in these lines lets us know our speaker knows better this side of all those broken egg shells.

Zora really dropped the mic on this closing stanza but consider: what are the ramifications of the speaker ending their journey by cooking for themselves.