The best of sweet and bitter greens
simmers in her large pots on the stove
along with some meat. The windows are cranked
half open like the woman’s attention
toward the yard. Just enough to hear a guest
play his melodeon. The rest of her concentration
on the noonday meal. She listens to the fade in/fade out
of what she imagines is the sea and lovers in a folksong
from the low country.
No words but the winsome squeeze of the instrument
like that of the heart , makes the strange melody
familiar, malleable to her mind. Memories of her own lover
(today a husband) dissolve into greener times. Those summers
before lightning split the lilac bush
and the garden’s litany of plants
spoke for a bungalow couple, not a boarding house crowd.
In those younger hours, her partner would describe
how a hummingbird blazed emerald in the sun, brilliantly
green as her eyes. And now, he looks at the same bird
and says it’s a large wasp stinging flowers
only reminding him there are wasps to smoke
in the porch rafters and nettles to slash
along the walkway. Their leaves prick and perturb the flesh
as much as the intimacy of being typical, too quick. She turns off
the low flame. The food is ready but she is not; the music
inviting her to linger in Gascony . Partially there,
the rest of her evaporates with the steam.
The lovely watercolor is by artist, Elise Engler.