Count on the faith that links us as we pray, about odd things in each other’s lives, nothing ruinous —a lost ring, an aching tooth. Even a request that we forget after a casual pledge: I’ll be sure to pray for you, words spoken as we chat at the store —they form a filament of gold, forged in heaven, that loops around us. Even careless phrases spoken through air hold firm, are heard, and may be answered. A cough that won’t give up, a missing check, a migraine that suspends us, waiting, held in the loop of prayer.
There’s not much I don’t know about you— yellow, red, sweet—grubbed up roots and all. Essential for a vigorous cuisine, alerting the sense—the crackle of your paper brown outer skin, your translucent inner sheaths like vegetable undergarments, your pungent heat rising from sharp steel and cutting board to my blurred eyes, your precise circles against the wood, before the sizzle in the buttered pan.
Reluctant to relinquish our intimacy your sharp essence clings to my fingers, like a reputation. Hours later, in the dark, you season the air around my hands, I’ll stud you with stars of cloves to bury in the belly of the bird before roasting. Or nestle your pearls with a stalk of mint among the green peas. If I leave you too long in the pantry, your patience exhausted, attenuated, soft at the center, you send up green spears through the mesh bag that call out chop me, make a salad, I am delicious.
How do I interpret my own layered membranes, like growth rings? I try to peel away the layers of my onion heart, never getting all the way in.
It leaps, breaking the skin of the lake of possibility, this thing that flashes steel— this trout of a poem, wild with life, rainbow scales and spiny fins. Now, for patience, the pull of the catch:
I cast, wait for the jerk—the tug of the hook in bony jaw— feel the line go taut. The ballet begins, a wrestle to land this flailing, feral thing—all thrash and edge— and tame it into telling its own muscular story.
I heave it over the edge of its arrival, glorious, fighting the whole way, slippery as language. Its beauty twitches on the floor boards, its glisten spilling over the bottom of my notebook page.
The pale bits—twigs, fibers, pine needles—sun-struck, fall through the lazy air as if yearning to be embodied in my knitting, like gold flecks woven into a ceremonial robe.
Then surprise—a new marvel! Like a parachutist, a very small beetle lands on the greeny stitch I have just passed from left needle to right; the creature’s burnished carapace mirrors precisely the loop of glowing, silky yarn that he has chosen.
When this shawl ends up warming someone’s shoulders, will she sense the unexpected— this glance, this gleam, this life spark?