You see, they say
The smoke in the meat and the umami pungency is vital.
This lends to the taste, its unique flavour.
Axone, the beloved of many.
The Sumi calls it her daily sustenance.
From the meek soybean to the viscous paste
A labour of love and care.
To warrant that the paste lingers in the precise humidity
As it is snuggled into the bamboo basket lined with teak leaves.
The warmth of the sunlight by day
And the balm of the fireplace by night
To resurrect on the third day.
The crackle in the peeling away of the dried leaves
Reveals the one-string consistency. That is the mark.
The sticky mass transferred into the chilimchi
The wooden pestle in the left and the ladle in the right,
Pound, scoop, turn; pound, scoop, turn; pound, scoop, turn.
Almost done, not yet. The paste wrapped with banana leaves,
Neat rectangular or square packages sitting over the fireplace
On the wire mesh, smoking away the last dregs of moisture.
It is done.
I know only 3 women in my life who make axone, above the rest;
My mother, abuza Qhetoli and aza Ghoili.
It’s in the woman’s hands, they say.
What one needs is a fragment of axone in a pot of smoked pork,
Over a catalysing fire, bubbling flavour, delight to your rice.