Falling In, Falling Out
The soup pot stirs, my hair dips into the broth,
Tendrils warm against my neck like a whisper.
I lean again to listen: the potatoes tell me what their eyes have seen.
My own, threaded by a needle of light, squint against, resist.
Poor leeks, you have been abandoned; jilted cousin to the onion,
No one will kiss you. I will kiss you. My mouth rounds and takes you in.
Mushrooms bob amid the murk, buoy up the blooms of wilted spinach.
The green swish in the bowl as my hands raise it toward my head &
I dive in; the splash as my body’s displacement sends spray
To the ceiling. What muscles it takes to swim laps among the murk.
What love does to a bowl. Bowl me over, row me around.
No one will love me more. This, what the leeks say.
On my back I do the deadman’s float. The sky is a ceiling crackled
With grieving, the loneliness of a backyard dog.
Step out, stand alone in the kitchen with me.
The bowl is an ocean only I can drown in.
What is there to be thankful for: This body, this breast
That takes the softened butter, the sprigs of herbs
Beneath the skin, the quartered oranges my hand has fitted into
The cavity where the heart once beat, alongside hunks of onion.
The heat will transform this body into something golden & holy,
A consecration of the elements, its flesh into your flesh,
So that when I take it into my mouth,
It is you that will be melting on my tongue.
At nineteen, my first lover peeled an orange.
My body did not know what it wanted and yet the orange
Was surprisingly welcome, each wet segment warmed
As his fingers slipped them into me, then out, then into his mouth,
Or into my own, this rite my first transmutation.
Yet even with this, I did not know what it felt like
To ascend to the top of my own head;
To have my own mind whited out by my own hands, to owe nothing to anyone.
The porcelain sink pinked with blood: the body’s ablution,
Washed and dried as carefully as I attend to my own.
When I heft the bird into the pan, fingers locked against slick skin,
I think of you, of what your heavy bones might feel like
Pressed between my palms. What heat does to the body.
The oven a scented grove, the heat a drowsy summer to dream through.
Bird body your body my body, an offering; liturgical.
What else do I have to give but this.
Cati Porter is a poet, editor, community arts facilitator and mother of two boys. She is the author of Seven Floors Up (Mayapple Press, 2008) and several chapbooks. She is founder and editor of Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry and Inlandia: A Literary Journey and Executive Director of the Inlandia Institute. www.catiporter.com