I was today years old when I learned  
some desserts listing artificial vanilla
as one of their ingredients may once
have been flavored by castoreum—
a yellow ochre substance produced
in beavers' castor sacs, located between
their pelvis and anus. Apparently, castoruem
once lent sugared strawberry tones to ice cream,
even a leathery musk to perfume. Emollients
and unguents, all the applications that,
like pheromones, lure the bees to the honey
in the hive and lips to the coolly glistening
throat—we've always favored the sweet
over the burnt and bitter, the lustrous more
than the pelted hide. We plunge pupae
of mulberry silkworms into boiling water
to unravel their cocoons into thread.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.