Only in the Mysteries room would
      you show me what you’d hidden,
slyly pulling from beneath your shirt
      those strawberries from my visit
            that we’d left on the shelf, untasted;

and while this library allows eating
      in certain designated areas, it was
only in the basement of Mysteries
      (with its lack of windows and single
            point of entry) that you’d let me

taste them the way they deserved,
      their savor as puzzle-box to be
unlocked through the manipulation
      of subtle pressures, the sliding
            of secret panels, the utterance

of magic words that vibrate on the lips.
      Riddles flanked us, outnumbering;
crowded shelves of them, voyeurs
      spying from between their covers
            as we checked again to be certain

we were alone with those Mysteries
      who mourned so salaciously the
imminent demise of their sibling,
      the conundrum of the flavor of
            those strawberries across whose

dimpled firmness I would run an
      inquisitive finger, wondering at
their hue, their summery fragrance.
      And when I dared to close my lips
            around them, spilled their secrets

across my mouth, I heard their
      wisdom in an ancient tongue.
There is a town in France known
      for its pepper, said to be a perfect
            complement to les fraises;

surely its name sits somewhere
      on these shelves, another Mystery
to be solved. But I will remember
      le poivre, its subtle complexities
            that lingered so long after

my question had been answered,
      and how I exalted at having stolen
the idea of that flavor, smuggled it past
      the front doors into the rain, fruit
            of such a simple, but illicit, act.

(first appeared in Literal Latté Fall 2013; winner, Literal Latté Food Verse Contest 2012)