You have rented an apartment. You come to this enclosure with physical relief, your heavy body climbing the stairs in the dark, the hall bulb burned out, the landlord of Greek extraction and possibly a fatalist. In the apartment leaning against one wall, your daughter's painting of a large frilled cabbage against a dark sky with pinpoints of stars. The eager vegetable, opening itself as if to eat the air, or speak in cabbage language of the meanings within meanings; while the points of stars hide their massive violence in the dark upper half of the painting. You can live with this.
I started out in the Virginia mountains
with my grandma’s pansy bed
and my Aunt Maud’s dandelion wine.
We lived on greens and back-fat and biscuits.
My Aunt Maud scrubbed right through the linoleum.
My daddy was a Northerner who played drums
and chewed tobacco and gambled.
He married my mama on the rebound.
Who would want an ignorant hill girl with red hair?
They took a Pullman up to Indianapolis
and someone stole my daddy’s wallet.
My whole life has been stained with pokeberries.
No man seemed right for me. I was awkward
until I found a good wood-burning stove.
There is no use asking what it means.
With my first piece of ready cash I bought my own
place in Vermont; kerosene lamps, dirt road.
I’m sticking here like a porcupine up a tree.
Like the one our neighbor shot. Its bones and skin
hung there for three years in the orchard.
No amount of knowledge can shake my grandma out of me;
or my Aunt Maud; or my mama, who didn’t just bite an apple
with her big white teeth. She split it in two.