Tuesday Jul 07

Rash Poetry Caroline Rash is a writer and educator in Camden, NJ. She has an MFA from Rutgers and is working on a novel about a series of missing women in a small Southern town. Find her on Twitter/IG: @CarolineRash
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Heirloom

B still makes Japanese pancakes—egg, flour, water.
She says every culture has a meal like that—two or three ingredients,

a scrounging-in-the-cupboards kind of meal. I think about New Orleans crawfish boils,
how proud everyone is when they eat the whole bug, not just etouffee tail or claw meat,

the whole bottom feeder, ditch dweller nibbling flesh in underwater drifts like snow;
B says they have more flavor. I never had a taste for it, the hundreds laid out on a wet wood

picnic table on weeks-old newspaper with brightly cobbled corn, stumps of sausage, squeezed orb of lemon and black-spotted potatoes, red bugs with the head still attached, nothing wasted, nothing

wasted, not even the unread newspaper soaking up juice. What we eat becomes a habit.
I can't look in their eyes. Unblinking amber beads, loose claws, under the wide mouth of sky.



The Banana Tree on Deslonde Street

The early freeze froze
bananas over, those bound
cryogenically by my window
now. We have been assured:
A clump of bananas hung
well past garden yield will fall
and burst in all its rottenness
to bread. And bread breaks
easy and thus the body of Christ.
What I mean is: there is a god
who casts ripened fruit into the dirt,
and if you assure me, here,
that each breath we breathe does
not further poison the air, I
will not meet your bovine eyes.

But admit the road will brim
for rainy season and then recede:
my feet will drop like ripe bananas
one, and then the other, on the
chilly floor towards morning.



Invocation

Bring the storm, please, bring the rain.

A kettle whistles, ginger tea
moisture curls under shut doors.
I have placed apple candles in every
room and the dog winds in circles
like a watch, nose to haunch, nose
to haunch. Impending, thin tremor
of air like insect wings, storm,

bring it all down, please, bring the rain.

Bikes rest on books, and the books
themselves rest crooked, the tub is
filled, dishes done. Porch steps
cool my bare feet taking in the weak
and pretty flowers and my eyes scan
the sky still open and placid as a petal.
Such a day must surely soak and tear,

so bring the storm, bring the rain.

I ask my neighbor, a stranger,
where is the rain? I could bike
back to the gallery where I left you
in this sunlight. I could run yet
into the street with a mania of questions.



Cast

      Steamy April leaves send       James and me              ducking to duskdark
      rooms where our mother lights a lamp          so we can read summer books

      earn a treat for each toppled stack of twenty.                         I am seven years old,
      I like to thumb my father ’s neglected shelves                the thick yellow stink of squint-

      small texts, my bloody-bitten fingers                         gently dusting each spine.       I like to think
      then     about my father’s hands fleshing the book    calloused pink where his pen rests

      this creature    —father—   thinker of far-off thoughts.         I can only go with him            so far  
          then he is alone    with the white box fan blades            back ache canyon-deep and


      we must quiet  for he is healing          but we are children    unable always to bend
      limbs and tiptoe along shelves.           More often      Mother wipes gray soap on

      her threadbare jeans and sends us out James to poke a thin stick at the trash bin garter snake
      me to pick tightrope toes barefoot      along the stone wall.              This is where I find the fossil

      embedded in a blonde rock     winking with mica from our creek.   I fold myself down and see    
          this—an armored bug   a many-limbed mindless spine.         I am afraid to touch it.


      After dinner                drying dishes               Mother removes her wedding ring to sink-side         
      eye-height.             I remember my treasure then             and tug her sleeve       but no one believes


      when I finger               trilobite in the encyclopedia   its ribbed carbon body by then a lost rock.    
          And I can't imagine now   why I set it down        but I was child unable to hold one


      thing.   Still      my belief in the old sea-dweller                    flowed ocean currents through our
      home       the pale sky heavied with water pressure and I swam      through tiger lilies      


      to reach the toolshed               gasp air           and stir bottom feeders with light beams        cast from
     my submarine’s foggy portals.                 From that dusty sill I waved to my father

      when he emerged                    in late spring               to hoe-halve an arrowhead snake.
      Its flesh stank through May                            By June, only its moonwhite spine remained.