Just Taste Them from Issue 86
My mother spread them on the metal kitchen table:
Edam, Gouda, Havarti, Chevre,
Jarlsberg, Camembert, Stilton.
I don’t remember why there were seven,
but that night I wondered, if you did it at all,
if there had to be seven
like the sacraments.
What I liked best were their names: seven whole
new things to put on your tongue, as well as smell
and especially taste them, and even chew them,
unlike Communion, and my mother
cutting them into delicate bits, not
slices or hunks, like when my father
wanted something late at night—
no, just delicate bits like rhinestones or quarters,
and my mother lifting them to me
on a toothpick or a cracker, and the two of us saying
their names before we tasted them, like we were
earning the taste by saying it, and not the usual
saltines either, not like when my father
wanted something fast.
She never called it a tasting, maybe she knew
that was its name, maybe from some magazine
she’d picked up at the check-out, one of those ones
that shows the consolations of food and flowers,
but we didn’t live in a place where
people had tastings, so all we could do
was just taste them.
I kept picturing when my father would come home later
from his job at Madison Square Garden
and he’d kneel to see what was in the fridge
and would come upon those odd-named things
and wonder what they were doing there—
as if they’d come from somewhere very far away—
the food of some strangers
or maybe their gods.
Groundhog and Crow from Issue 86
In the dry grass, my face to the sun,
my body open, still warm,
my chest, my belly, my arms
and I knew right away that it had to be
God, the breath-knocking thud,
the light so blinding it threw me
to the ground, my arms wide, my belly up.
A day and a night I lay there in the grass,
my limbs stiffening, I swelled like a gourd,
my arms open, my palms cupped,
my lover coming, he was God after all, the sun
on his back, his coat black, my belly
waiting, my chest tight,
my heart like a wild plum.
And oh the slow dark stride of his shadow,
his elegant feet like the strokes of a pen,
his feathers, his beak, my quivering
delight, it was God I throbbed beneath,
my insides on fire as if I would ignite
the dry grass if he didn’t take me,
as if I would burst from love if he
didn’t pluck me open, I was his
lover, tear me, I was his maiden, eat
me, I was his darling, my face to
the sun, release me, I was his friend,
no longer of the ground, I was air, I was
death, I was gone, and he was
my lover, he came when I called him.