by Peach Delphine
Peeling paper spirals of mango skins in one bucket, flesh in another, great grandmother at the table with steaming coffee, small like me, gliding blade in hand "Child, mind you don't cut yourself" juice dripping down my wrists, removing the boundary, interior becoming exterior, the sweetness of night, bitter of day. Linkage of edge, hand, wrist, elbow, heart of palm split from the body, the trunk splayed open, still singing of birds in its crown, bats in its fronds, a hive of bees shaken loose, the heart chunked into cook pot, in a sky without chorus or cloud, turkey buzzards circling, far above, shoulder on a low fire, clear smoke clear sky, cowpeas simmering, cornbread going into the skillet, a prayer unspoken, the heart in the black pot, the iron mouth swallowing me, swallowing my heart, "Child, mind you don't cut yourself" palmetto draws the breeze. Sifting wave, the body without restraint, breathing shade, catbird flipping leaves, the form of tradition is not what made, the making cannot be claimed, of self, erosion by water and wind, polishing the shell, bone haunted, word contains the breath, windbound, unable to flee, measuring damage by what we do not hear, by what becomes translucent, glass of emptiness, we cannot define the taste of absence, salt, sour orange, black coffee, cane syrup charting the tongue, we cannot define what our hands hold, wrists balanced precariously as the blade sings of the heart sliced from the tree, mangos filling the bucket. We live with what has been done and said, an extra plate at the table, litany of scar, lacerations of tongue, somewhere, near by, moving closer, catbird mewling, thicket growing, rain cooking up over flat woods, horizon of pine and cypress, the weight of cicada singing heavy on the breeze, flashing teeth of lightning chewing at our wounds, absence arrives, soft footed as possum, relentless as indigo snake, silent as barred owl, consuming us piece by piece, the heart swallowed whole.
Peach Delphine is a queer poet from Tampa, Florida. Former cook infatuated with what remains of the undeveloped Gulf coast.