Photo by Jane Blue
—Jane Blue, Sacramento
I am eating an orange over the sink, juice
gushing down my chin and over my hands.
Suddenly my grandmother
is eating an orange over the sink, the old
porcelain sink of memory. My mother,
living in the same house but wishing
she was not, eats an orange over the sink,
the fiber collecting in her teeth.
Grown-up children arrive for Easter
and juggle oranges in the yard. Clouds blacken.
The oldest forgets her purse under the orange tree.
The little ones come and hide oranges
instead of eggs all over the house for Easter,
in closets and bookcases and behind
muslin curtains. The youngest whispers
a story about her father.
She puts him in the tissued cell
of a cardboard box, like a gourmet orange,
saving him until he comes back. Rain
slams down and the black pouch of the purse
is soaked through. How many things it holds:
coins, a book, a pocket knife, a phone;
they keep coming as though the purse is magic.
We whirl it in the dryer and nothing is ruined.
IN DEFENSE OF PLANTS
Carrots, with the golden rings of trees inside,
jump off the cutting board when you chop them.
Even grass is scythed or pulled out of the earth
like hair, and nuts, seemingly given so freely
by the trees, must be prised open like clams,
the meat (that is what we call it) splayed out
like a mammalian brain in the shell of its skull.
Soy beans are pressed through screens
until they are lifeless as smooth cubed stones,
then molded and colored to look like pork or beef
(the message: you can't do without it).
Sprouted beans thread out into filaments
like antennae. You might as well be eating insects.
The emptied sprouts open like mouths
reminiscent of carnivorous plants. If plants
eat meat, why shouldn't we? Sadly, there may
not be such a thing as nonviolence. The onions
with their souls exposed, how I weep with them.
(previously published in Caesura)
PEAR IN CHOCOLATE
(on a photo by Kevin German, Photographer
The Sacramento Bee, February 8, 2006)
His specialty is portraiture. He has composed the pear
as he would a figure, off-center to the left
where light streams in as if from a window
in a Vermeer. The dowdy pear-shape and topknot
of a stem lean toward the dark emptiness at the right.
The pear tilts on a table of chocolate, melted
and hardening again into a ridge of rope. The freckled
torso of the fruit is pocked just above its broad hip
on the side untouched by chocolate, which stops
in art-deco waves vertically where the pear was dipped.
Perhaps the dent is of a finger gripping it. It's not
chocolate that elevates the fruit, amber and burnished,
it is the light. The pear seems at once disconsolate
and beautiful, hunkering down into the chocolate earth.
Did the photographer mean for it to resemble a nude?
Food is sexy; sex sells anything, even the idea
of fruit in chocolate. The effect is not, as you'd think,
of decadence, but the loneliness of objectified love.
(previously published in Ekphrasis)
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento
we will tear a rose
and devour it
for we are hungry
for certain tastes
we have been
away so long
of the flowers
pink with flavor
as we smile
through the half darkness
at each other
(previously appeared in Ark and
The Rose-eaters mini-chap by
I didn’t eat
and the hunger held, long past denial,
long into the reading hour.
Once I saw how one snake
swallowed another just as big,
arduous and slow. I was repelled.
Sleepless time was winding its great tongue
around my shadow which, like a bloating,
grew fatter and fatter.
Finally, to outwit my mouth, I watched my hand
pick up a knife—and down my belly—
make one swift slice, and shove bread in.
(previously appeared in Out of Sight)
Take a rabbit from the wild.
Prepare it for the stew,
which means, of course,
to kill it first.
Discard the hairy skin.
Dissect. (I mean,
cut into serving pieces.)
Put in a pot of water.
Add this and that,
and stir and simmer,
stir and simmer,
till it’s tender.
THE DAUGHTER OF THE MAD WOMAN
The daughter of the mad woman
is an arm-wrestler.
She gives away boxes of candy
to visitors who
come to test her strength
against their own.
She wins, of course.
She is the child of brilliance
the one who knows how to be
the one who has inherited
(previously appeared in Small Press News)
A BOX OF CANDY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
one square of chocolate
with an orange center. Sour-sweet.
The chocolate coating unconvincing.
Still, the rich scent lures the eyes
to taste. Forbidden, therefore wanted.
Indulge. It’s only one.
A matter of choice;
at a dollar. Impulse to test against,
and lose. All the will in the world
gives in to temptation.
You slice it into tiny bits
to prolong the tasting.
Just one, you comfort yourself.
i refuse to die
until i've had my say
—Charles Mariano, Sacramento