Place the pasta in the water and the salt in the water and the water in the pot and the pot on the fire.
In the pot? The fire in the pot?
No. The water in the pot. The pot on the fire.
The pasta in the water?
Yes, in the water.
And the salt in the fire?
No. The salt in the water.
And the water on the fire?
No. The water in the pot and the pot on the fire. Not the water on the fire. For then the fire will die and dying be dead.
Nor will the water boil and the pasta will drain dry and not cooked and hard to the teeth.
The salt falls nor does it cease to fall.
The water boils. So be it.
Cease from placing your hand in the boiling water. Place your hand in the boiling water and it will cause you pain.
Very much pain.
the pot the bubbles bubble up and bubble some more. The bubbles are
bubbly. Never more bubbly bubbles bubbling bubbliest. And having
bubbled the bubbles still bubbly.
Across the kitchen a board intended for chopping. Here. Take it. Chop.
What will I chop? There are no ingredients to chop.
Just chop. Don't cease from chopping. To chop is to become a man.
After 10 minutes. The pasta stiff and dry and upright no more. The pasta lank and wet and soft. In the eternal damp of water.
Pour water free like some ancient anointing. The pasta left alone in the pot. Alone and naked.
The salt? Where's the salt?
The salt is gone. Lost to the water and gone forever.
I grieve for the salt.
It is the salt for which I grieve.
Tip the pasta out.
Yes. Tip it out. Onto.
Yes. And stop.
Finishing your sentences?
Because it's so.
in your memory anywhere of anything so good. Now the pasta is eaten.
Disappeared. The pasta disappeared as everything disappeared. As the
comma disappears and the semicolon disappears and the inverted comma
disappears and the apostrophe disappears and the adjectives and the
pronouns all disappear.
Leaving just full stops and And.
(first published in Vanity Fair, 2008. By Craig Brown, I think).