|Jul/Aug 2003 • Poetry|
I am tired of mountains. I am tired of fields,
of scorched grass stretching for miles. The highway
recites its pulse beneath us and conversation
became unnecessary twelve exits back.
When we reach the town, I see a brick
house in a toy-strewn yard. A wagon.
Azaleas crushed beneath a child's bicycle.
A kitchen window lined with neat discs of plates.
And it happens the way it always does:
Suddenly, I am inside the kitchen,
while children who are not mine
scatter blocks across a wooden floor.
My feet are warm in wool socks while I crack
flawless eggs into a bowl and stare out the window
through the clothesline. After breakfast, I will put on
my jacket and lift the bicycle from the flowers.
I will walk across the highway, swing a left
to the grocer who knows my name, and linger
along dusty shelves, shopping for milk and bread,
a handful of caramels for the children.
On the walk back, neighbors who have known me
forever will wave to me and when I wave back,
they will recognize me as the woman who dreams
she is only passing through.
Curing with Limes
The neighbors, I'm certain,
loved you more for that tree.
It's tight-fisted fruit,
green spheres slouching
camouflaged in the mosh-pit
of bright leaves.
Harvest time was a weekend
in your kitchen,
jalousie windows cranked open
in a futile attempt
to circulate Floridian air.
Your hands, like the rest of you,
stronger than they looked
and you squeezed until
each hemisphere was dry.
Discarded rinds gathered in the trash,
tart scent meshing
with the heavy fabric of the air.
You worked until your ankles swelled
and your plastic jelly sandals
cinched your skin.
After the last pie cooled, you invited us,
invited us all, a big-hearted red hen,
into your front yard, and everyone
was so wrapped up in the final delivery—
pale green shimmer
peaked with whipping cream,
tongues furrowing each tine—
that it was easy to forget
how your hands withered
with acidity, how they shook
as you pressed
a rain shower of green tears
from each parched cup.