I began to see things in parts again, segments, a pen drawn against the skin to show where to cut, lamppost through the stained glass with its etchings of light against the wall — it was the middle of the night. It was something we would tell no one: The hospital roads with standing water, I drove quickly through, saying, you won’t have to stay. But then I left without you, you whom I’ve felt missing all this time — when I sat in the weeds of the yard, told to pull them from the root, not to touch the wild trillium, tying knots in the daffodil stalks, discontented. When I watched the scatters of firs sway their birds out through my storm windows, the tree itself now and no more, I thought I needed belief — walking through the stubbed wheat grass requesting everything that would undo me — the nearness of Christ, abandon and devotion — no one has to teach me my disobediences. No one sees the shed I see now, its roof bent with snow, all of it leaning south how it was never built. The inches overcome it, but the green wood darkens, oceanic and deep. He might not wake up, I thought that night — I remembered the house I boarded in one summer with a widower, his wife’s fabric samples left draped over the arm of the unfinished chair. I could feel her eyes in my own when I tried to choose between them, almost, if the sun of the alcove hadn’t faded them, the dust and his arms worn them. The sky as stark as the first sheet laid down after they took her body. But on that night while I waited, the clouds casketed the stars, stars with no chambers or hollows, filling themselves with their own heat how a hive quivers to fill each crevice with itself, how I have never been able.
Amy E. King
Digging Potatoes, Sebago, Maine
Summer squash and snap-beans gushed all August, tomatoes in a steady splutter through September. But by October's last straggling days, almost everything in the garden was stripped, picked, decayed. A few dawdlers: some forgotten carrots, ornate with worm-trail tracery, parsley parched a patchy faded beige. The dead leaves of potato plants, defeated and panting, their shriveled dingy tongues crumbling into the mud. You have to guess where. The leaves migrate to trick you. Pretend you're sure, thrust the trowel straight in, hear the steel strike stone, hear the song of their collision—this land is littered with granite. Your blade emerges with a mob of them, tawny freckled knobs, an earthworm curling over one like a tentacle. I always want to clean them with my tongue, to taste in this dark mud, in its sparkled scatter of mica and stone chips, its soft genealogy of birch bark and fiddleheads, something that means place, that says here, with all its crags and sticky pines, its silent stubborn brambles. This is my wine tasting. It's there, in the potatoes: a sharp slice with a different blade imparts a little milky blood, and I can almost smell it. Ferns furling. Barns rotting. Even after baking, I can almost taste the grit.