A blossom on its long stem
the broom is a hag of a tulip.
It is a woman who ties back
her hair with wire,
who wears burlap,
who eats clay.
For its fidelity
the broom has been granted
the ability to carry the witch
to the clouds. Who was the first
to slip it between her legs
Butter, like love,
seems common enough
yet has so many imitators.
I held a brick of it, heavy and cool,
and glimpsed what seemed like skin
beneath a corner of its wrap;
the décolletage revealed
a most attractive fat!
And most refined.
Not milk, not cream,
not even crème de la crème.
It was a delicacy which assured me
that bliss follows agitation,
that even pasture daisies
through the alchemy of four stomachs
may grace a king’s table.
We have a yellow bowl near the toaster
where summer’s butter grows
soft and sentimental.
We love it better for its weeping,
its nostalgia for buckets and churns
and deep stone wells,
for the press of a wooden butter mold
shaped like a swollen heart.
There is menace
in its relentless course, round and round,
describing an ellipsoid,
an airy prison in which a young girl
Whom will she marry? Whom will she love?
The rope, like a snake,
has the gift of divination,
yet reveals only a hint, a single initial.
But what if she never misses?
Is competence its own reward?
Will the rope never strike her ankle,
love’s bite? The enders turn and turn,
two-handed as their arms tire,
their enchantments exhausted.
It hurts to watch her now,
flushed and scowling,
her will stronger than her limbs,
her braids lashing her shoulders
with each small success.
The world of my youth was divided
into girls who could and girls who couldn’t
slide casually to the floor,
one leg aft and one leg fore, while their faces
retained a sprightly cheer.
All summer, all year
they stretched the critical tendons,
descending in increments
the way the willful enter a frigid lake,
their arms folded across their chests,
their backs burning in the sun
as their legs numb.
Yet the splits seemed less a skill
than a gift of birth: Churchillian pluck
combined with a stroke of luck
like a pretty face with a strong chin.
One felt that even as babies
some girls were predispositioned.
Luxury itself, thick as a Persian carpet,
honey fills the jar
with the concentrated sweetness
of countless thefts,
the blossoms bereft, the hive destitute.
Though my debts are heavy
honey would pay them all.
Honey heals, honey mends.
A spoon takes more than it can hold
without reproach. A knife plunges deep,
but does no injury.
Honey moves with intense deliberation.
Between one drop and the next
forty lean years pass in a distant desert.
What one generation labored for
and yet another gives thanks.