The lights off, the clock glowing 2:10,
And Molina is at the table drawing what he thinks is soup
And its carrots rising through a gray broth.
He adds meat and peppers it with pencil markings.
The onion has gathered the peas in its smile.
The surface is blurred with the cold oils squeezed from a lime.
He adds hominy and potato that bob
In a current of pork fat, from one rim to the other,
Crashing into the celery that has canoed such a long way.
Spoon handle that is a plank an ant climbs.
Saucer that is the slipped disk of a longhorn.
Napkin that is shredded into a cupful of snow.
2:10 looks peculiar – it looks like a Bible verse. And given the primordial meaning of the word “soup,” and the orange arising from grayness – bright order from disorder, perhaps we should look at the relevant verses from Genesis. Here is Genesis 2: 9-12 —
9 Out of the ground Yahweh God made every tree to grow that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it was parted, and became four heads.
11 The name of the first is Pishon: this is the one which flows through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12 and the gold of that land is good. There is aromatic resin and the onyx stone.
Now, notice what “Molina” is doing. He’s drawing what he thinks is soup. He’s drawing a meal, something that might satisfy him. But this meal is not a meal, the colors and textures must symbolize all sorts of stuff.
What does it mean for an onion to smile, and gather peas? I suspect the lines of the onion are like the 4 rivers, branching out, feeding the Earth, giving it the greeness of the peas. Further, note the blurring of the juice of the limes; the grey before is becoming greener, ever so slowly. Hominy and potato – gold and brown – correspond roughly to gold and resin – and the grayness of onyx could be the clearness and density of pork fat.
Now comes the twist on the Genesis story. I don’t see anything, looking forward into Chapter 2 of Genesis, that leads me to think of a canoe or celery, except the emergence of man – man is he who can canoe. But why celery?
I think celery canoeing down a river is the very subtle image of a snake. Notice how the snake emerges from the mingling of the images of man and the Creation process mingling.
And it is after this snake image, notice, that we move from the soup altogether, to those things which dispense the soup, allow it to be consumed. The sin of Eden, I think, is man claiming complete dominion, and Soto seems to be saying that such a claim was inherent in God giving dominion from the outset. Like ants, we try to get mastery over this handle that could stir the soup, but we’re really just insects that will spoil it. The disk of a longhorn is a grotesque image, suggesting that an animal was a cut up not for its meat, but for one shapely part. And finally, the napkin shredded into a cupful of snow suggests that our purity has completely gone away, as the warmth of Eden has been ecplised by our coldness, and the only thing filling the cup is the shreds of what was our dignity at Creation.