Original poem reprinted online here: "Decent Recipe for Tilapia" by Jillian Weise
Originally read: September 17, 2013
More information about the Poet: Jillian Weise
Written in tercets and, in the beginning, there's a distinct difference between two aspects in the beginning: a recipe and the idea of relationships forming. During the progression of the poem, both are intertwined, and the question is why:
Tell your back home friends it means nothing
and you will drop him as soon as you have
friends in the city. If you had more friends,
you would not sleep with him.
Here the focus is the idea of proof. The speaker is reasoning on why too keep this guy, to have the power still. He means nothing, at least, tell that to your friends. Already there's a sense of a facade placed here -- that the reasoning have to be external to "sleep with him," or "If not him , / who would share your Tilapia? No beloved meal / begins, 'Alone before a plate of fish...'" So, this kind of reasoning fits with the either/or proposition in which the latter is more important than the former. Note the two loaded words here, "beloved" and "Alone" in which can be appropriated to the speaker and/or the meal.
"Find your market. 'Are you single?' the man / behind the counter asks. What to think ? For meals you are inside a couple." The dilemma starts with the third stanza. Yes, there's the blend of a market as both dating and the dating scene. It is the response, though, that is intriguing. "Inside a couple" -- the reader is now has access to the internal.
"From inside the couple, you have someone / to call while standing in line. "Does your / girlfriend know?" you must never ask." Oh damn. There's a third party involved and it's a girlfriend. Well sort of. There's no indication of what the girlfriend represents in the poem (the "him" the speaker is currently sleeping with? the person who asks "are you single," and, perhaps, the speaker herself.", and I think this is purposely done to show the speaker has not title as well. It's a shock value line that doesn't stay a shock line; rather a line based on lack of definition -- which brings a greater sense of tragedy.
"Instead, 'So many fish and which?' / The laws of attraction are this: There are no laws of attraction." The tying in with the recipe goes along with the search, but note the distinct separation based on laws (colon - same definition) which the only law is there is no law. Or to simplify, "A person likes / a person." Note the individual attention shirks away the overall search. That the speaker, on an individual personal basis, is defending.
"Both parties like each other / and each other enjoy being liked. / Baste the fish in lemon and butter." Funnily, the key words are "lemon and butter" for me. This shows more of a cohesion stated in the earlier two lines; however, the "fish" has added weight because of the use (connecting and disconnecting device).
"They say it takes time to meet people. / Do you agree? Sleep with your friend. / Disagree? Cut him off. Put it in the oven." The short questions makes the last stanza. These questions aren't rhetorical in the sense that they aren't meant to be answered. When the speaker answers them succinctly. But note how the end refers to putting things in oven (maybe a pregnancy reference) which repeats the cycle. Recipes, made step by step, tend to create the same results.