Feast of Disappointments

by Linda E. Cable
Wild Poetry Forum
First Place, July 2008
Judged by Tony Barnstone

I have come to the potatoes,
paring them down swiftly,
chanting your sins to the sink
until I hold another offering,
haphazard orbs the color of old eggs
and I choke on the smell of mud.

A room away you snore,
clutching at visions,
dreaming of butter,
gravy and youth.

I have seen your belly rise, fall,
still aching for round things;
sweet breast of melon,
pickled cucumbers biting
your sun broken lips,
the rain taste of green grapes;
ever a man of appetites.

In the fields, you confessed,
pulled up my skirt
with no concern
for the fallow years.

Now we are about potatoes;
the ticktock of consuming
roots in silence,
ignoring the pull of the scythe.

During those blind years
we knew nothing of wasted nights,
two beds, pressed against separate walls.
I boil Canaan with turnips,
served up on wedding plates.

The poem is intimate, a lyrically overheard bit of memory-thought-consciousness. At first I worried that it might be too tight, too controlled, but ultimately found myself admiring the image rhymes (eggs with melons with breasts with grapes with potatoes with bellies), the cooked-up assonance and consonance of all those great monosyllables (hold, orbs, old, eggs, choke, mud), the way roots and fertility and the difficult emotional harvest, cooking and appetite and consuming waste all interact in the semantic shadow of the poem. The poem keeps singing in the mind after you turn away from the page--a struck bell. --Tony Barnstone