Three Poems

By SK Smith

Recipe for Pesto
 
A jury of peonies hanging
above my daughter’s head weep
their petals
kiss her back
and neck
 
I crouch beside her, pulling
strands of hair behind her ear, and whisper
Come inside
 
She follows me to the kitchen
 
Pignolis are nothing more than dried tears
the Genoan woman had told me
 
I open the coarse, brown sack and guide
my daughter’s hand inside to cup
a handful
of dried tears
to dry her own
 
We gather—never stopping
to measure our handfuls
pour them into a shallow, marble bowl
and grind them
with an old, brass doorknob
under the heel of our hands
between our fingers
 
We drizzle oil
until the bowl becomes slick
our hands sliding across one another’s
like the carp in the Japanese Tea Garden
 
Only for a moment
do we stop
to pull apart the cloves
of garlic that have nestled themselves together
into a harmless wasp nest
peel away the papery skin
skin the texture of my grandmother’s
and mash the meat
of the cloves until our eyes
once again are teary and burn
 
Beside my daughter I place
a pungent, young spray of basil
delicate in its scent of ocean
and sweat
And she pulverizes
its leaves
and I grate
sheep’s milk cheese
over her hands
and into the bowl
a fine powder
that dries both
whey and tears
 
Bare feet
 
that stomp beneath heavy, grape stained skirts
of the blessed Virgin in plaster
of Paris, bruising the serpent’s head
 
scraped and scabby from shoeless bike rides
broken off at the ankle, now ghosts
on display in countless museums
 
soaking in a tub of Epsom salts
unveiled beyond the mortician’s sheets,
flaunting a stainless steel wedding ring
 
                        -
 
are what I want you to fit in your mouth:
 
to feel their irregularities
to jar the very roots of your teeth
 
remember the summer you were chasing
across the backyard and felt a frog burst
between your toes; life a celebration
in fountains of sweat and skin, dew and blood
 
recall the old woman from our dusky
walks, hunched on a pickle bucket—fishing
we stared, stared, but never could see through
water lapping against her cool, brown calves
 
aren’t exactly what you think I should see
 
                        -
hidden inside wool blankets and drawers
dig holes that uproot the foundations
of sandcastles, hermit crabs, and conch shells
 
gently scratch the inside of your thighs
nuzzling to find the source of your warmth—
pull me inside as you turn away
 
resting upon each other, in dance
sometimes an imprint on earths and moons
side by side, as couples forever
 
are what you shut your eyes against—ashamed:
 
I know that yours smell of warm, stale beer
That they taste of cinnamon and rust
Take mine; taste them.  They are ours to share.
 
Hide and Seek
Holly berry bushes                
sheltering the porch— 
and I? 
I’ve been waiting for you 
to find me here. 
 
Hiding in the branches, 
trying not to breathe, 
I sit— 
hoping you will see me 
and take my hand. 
 

SK Smith

S.K.Smith, was raised by wolves in the ancient town of Joplin, Missouri, where, at the ripe, old age of twelve she ran off with a second-rate traveling circus.  Having learned the necessary skills of fire-breathing and hoop-jumping, she now spends her pandemic days continuously feeding her cats, Mr. Darcy and Marcello.  She can belt out a mean torch song in a pinch and can eat her weight in almond croissants as a service to her country.