Cohabitation, With Moss

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.