Beth Gordon

The Road Behind

Of course placentas, of course broken bones/
amputations, of course old skin. Of course
a red-ringed moon in the New Mexico
desert, my soul leaping out of its frame
to watch you from a safe distance. Also
ice cream on my shoulder, also your tongue
like first communion, slick & soft & lost
beneath a stack of polaroids. Also
cigarettes: your hand/ disappears/ your hand
on the blue guitar. Also, memory
is an unreliable lover, scabs
on my ankles beginning to flake &
fade. My shoes in the bar: love letters burned
in the unexpected flame. Also black
patent leather shoes. My father carries
me on his young & beautiful shoulders.

Summer Solstice: 2021

Above us on the highest branch a cardinal is frantic. His morning song a plea for more song. For sky. His nest is complete. Eggs laid. Mate gone missing in last night’s lightning storm. His flight is

clumsy with pain. Below the maple tree we spread a feast of eggplant & tzatziki: feta cheese in rectangle slices as thick as a thumb. Cucumbers floating on puddles of lemon juice floating on

hummus. And tomatoes so sweet we moan. Our desire to break bread bottled up like moonshine & sun tea while the mint grew shoulder high. We’ve forgotten how to eat in a herd: how to absorb

hands. How to balance chewing & swallowing with weather predictions. The empty bottle reflects our worn path. Hallway: kitchen: bedroom: street: every step around the television counted like days.

Cooking Lesson

The recipe for bang-bang shrimp resides
in a chamber of your belligerent
heart. Never pen to paper. Spoken like
catechism when someone asks. Only
I hear how it’s different with every
recitation. Yesterday there was sweet
chili in the mayonnaise and today
it’s ginger root. Corn meal: wheat flour: baking
powder: the secret granary of your
soul, cellar-ed. Your left ventricle the stow-
away flight gear for a dash of pepper:
a drop of anise extract: a thimble
of mescal: a lightly greased pan. Replace
milk with butter. Replace okra with salt.
Place a ripe egg into boiling water.
Watch it light up. Open it like an eye.

Beth Gordon is a poet, mother, and grandmother currently living in Asheville, NC. Her poetry has been published in Passages North, RHINO, EcoTheo Review, Into the Void, Pigeonholes, SWWIM, Pithead Chapel, Barren, Citron Review and others. Her full-length poetry collection, This Small Machine of Prayer, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in July 2021 and her chapbook, The Water Cycle, is forthcoming from Variant Literature in November 2021. She is Managing Editor of Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, Assistant Editor of Animal Heart Press, and Grandma of Femme Salve Books. Twitter and Instagram @bethgordonpoet