let us never be rescued from this mess

This poem by Aimee Nezhukumatathil reminds me of all the time spent in the kitchen, across my life and especially this past year when it became even more centered as a daily space for energy and deliciousness and escape from everything else.

Illustration below by one of my dearest friends since we were in middle school, Kristina Closs, a talented artist who has graciously agreed to illustrate some of my posts this month! You can see more of her beautiful work at @kristinapaints on Instagram or at WoodPigeon, her Etsy store.

“Baked Goods”

Flour on the floor makes my sandals 
slip and I tumble into your arms. 

Too hot to bake this morning but
blueberries begged me to fold them

into moist muffins. Sticks of rhubarb 
plotted a whole pie. The windows

are blown open and a thickfruit tang
sneaks through the wire screen

and into the home of the scowly lady
who lives next door. Yesterday, a man 

in the city was rescued from his apartment
which was filled with a thousand rats. 

Something about being angry because
his pet python refused to eat. He let the bloom 

of fur rise, rise over the little gnarly blue rug, 
over the coffee table, the kitchen countertops

and pip through each cabinet, snip
at the stumpy bags of sugar,

the cylinders of salt. Our kitchen is a riot
of pots, wooden spoons, melted butter. 

So be it. Maybe all this baking will quiet
the angry voices next door, if only

for a brief whiff. I want our summers

to always be like this—a kitchen wrecked
with love, a table overflowing with baked goods
warming the already warm air. After all the pots

are stacked, the goodies cooled, and all the counters
wiped clean—let us never be rescued from this mess. 

_

From Lucky Fish

There are not enough jam jars to can this summer sky at night.

I learned this year that a haibun is a poetic form that originates in Japan and combines prose and haiku. This haibun from Aimee Nezhukumatathil and her fourth collection, Oceanic, took my breath away when I came across it last summer.

aimee-nezhukumatathil-hires-cropped

“Summer Haibun”

To everything, there is a season of parrots. Instead of feathers, we searched the sky for meteors on our last night. Salamanders use the stars to find their way home. Who knew they could see that far, fix the tiny beads of their eyes on distant arrangements of lights so as to return to wet and wild nests? Our heads tilt up and up and we are careful to never look at each other. You were born on a day of peaches splitting from so much rain and the slick smell of fresh tar and asphalt pushed over a cracked parking lot. You were strong enough—even as a baby—to clutch a fistful of thistle and the sun himself was proud to light up your teeth when they first swelled and pushed up from your gums. And this is how I will always remember you when we are covered up again: by the pale mica flecks on your shoulders. Some thrown there from your own smile. Some from my own teeth. There are not enough jam jars to can this summer sky at night. I want to spread those little meteors on a hunk of still-warm bread this winter. Any trace left on the knife will make a kitchen sink like that evening air

the cool night before
star showers: so sticky so
warm so full of light