Looks Like Faith
Chill southern winds shove and pummel grand
leafing maples, stately cedars, day after day from
one month into another, cracking off thick limbs,
hurling them to sodden ground impaled
by deadwood spears, strewn with ragged branches,
some tipped abundantly with leaf buds as firm
and flush as magnolia, fat with futile purpose.
Dwarfed fruit trees—an apple, a pear—
without choice, raise translucent petals, sturdy
as moth’s wings, to this fierceness.
Both Sides of the Bread
How is it that melted brie tastes so different
from its firmer form? An onion can start rotting
from a single middle layer? And, for all of her
standby dishes requiring just five or seven ingredients
she is missing one?
A mound of pale melons
on one side of the aisle won’t reconcile
with eggnog in the dairy display:
her long gloved fingers caress, then replace,
mangos flown from Chile--buying them
won’t produce summer on her skin.
Having relished, rejected, researched,
tended, purchased, prepared
and discarded food for decades;
having received it through tubes or forced herself to swallow;
smiled at the shine of golden corn
with black beans and red tomatoes; groaned
with the wet/firm sweet of pear
against thick, buttery tang of Stilton;
loved with food, celebrated and consoled with it,
resented the time spent shopping, cooking;
having been impatient with chewing,
she thinks of food creatively, concernedly, often
How is it that salt makes sugar sweeter, muffins
became cupcakes and chocolate a breakfast food?
Vegetables are more plentiful in cities,
and the towns,
from which the truly fresh fish arrives for city restaurants,
Even “fresh” food travels by truck-plane-truck
and may legally be frozen and thawed.
She, who has always enjoyed variety in food,
even in poorer youth when variety came canned,
now knows gratitude, and guilt; thinks of
the lives of others: some might wish to steal the vegetable
trimmings from her compost or
be thrilled with reliable boredom of rice rice rice rice rice
How is it that we now eat most of our meals alone,
as fast as possible, in front of dashboards or backlit screens?
How is it that “food” became a paragraph
of non-perishable, unpronounceable ingredients
in tiny print, listed by federal mandate
on cardboard containers, the contents of which
cause illness and hasten our demise?
How is it that, in her wealthy, spacious country,
its bounty of people weighing eighty extra pounds
And one tenth of young minds can’t take in knowledge
because of empty bellies?
With acorn squash in her basket
she reaches for chilled eggs;
remembers the disgust expressed when her students heard
that eggs come warm from the rear of a hen;
does she know how all of her purchases are grown?
Waste bothers her the most:
her incredible access to edibles snubbed
by her sluggish appetite; molds found
on marinara and refrigerated rye--her landscaping ingests
a fifth of the food she meant to eat;
kitchen workers fill barrels
with what’s left on “finished” plates;
she knows there is no “away”
for us to throw to
Oh my goodness yesshe is grateful, she isgrateful
to make different dishes for different times of day
discard the citrus peels and brew coffee grounds just once
to be able to take full cupboards for granted,
occasionally eat out of season, eat out at all,
to be lucky enough to complain about, question these things
Unpacking kale, garlic, baguette, she looks
across her tree-shaded yard that nourishes
mostly juncos, chickadees, bees,
where the deep rains come after
tender plants have died back, stopped drinking;
admires the hummingbirds at the feeder under the eaves who,
fiercely territorial, still call truce at dusk
so that all may survive the dark night.
How to be like them?
She who has been too slender too long
butters both sides of her bread.