Tuber Traces

Allan Cooper in Gabriel's Wing has a poem in honour of Seamus Heaney. It is a fine meditation entitled "Potatoes". After stanzas describing potatoes in all their concrete earthiness, the poem turns to a search for one word equally nourishing. It concludes with a geopolitical perspective.

A thin strand
leading all the way back to the Incas
rises in our planting.
The poem has approached this knowledge via a set of questions. The lines immediately preceding the conclusion ask "And what of the one word / we've longed for all our days? / What will we do when we find it?"

Another strand, different heritage: according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the children's counting-out rhyme that begins one potato, two potato was first recorded in 1885 in Canada. (Also attested by A Dictionary of English Folklore.) I don't believe that Cooper had these words quite in mind: "One potato, two potato, three potato, four. Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more. One bad spud!" But something tells me that Heaney would love to be counted: rot or not.

And so for day 1078