little lives

fingers are biscuit blistered, risen
like dough into fine red mounds.
liquid grown hard under skin, like pomegranate
seeds ripe with pressure. these hands
could be your mothers
but aren’t. have you ever rubbed butter
between thumb and pointer until cornmeal?
it takes long enough to warrant a nap.
the world has ninety babies in that time.
in the oven the soft circles grow and grow
brown with age 
like little lives. we are hardly
any slower.
if you can tell a woman’s age
by her palms i worry i am already too far
along. this sense of time makes me frantic to make
more biscuits coffee little people pieces of good furniture.
all good things are either delicious or permanent.
butter is better because it melts. children are better
because they don’t. if you get flour in your hair
you’ll go gray early. sprinkle the salt
from high above the baking sheet. no, higher.
these could have been your mother’s hands
but weren’t.

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kudzu canyons

last time i drove home the kudzu
was still south of Louisville, flanking
the highway like towering green
soldiers shoulder to shoulder, the road
the floor of a canyon. i’ve been told
it grows an inch a day or two
feet in a week but i bet it could cover
a sleeping woman in a night. you
would think this stretch of highway
was my favorite by how many
times i’ve driven it. the first dozen
i loved watching the vines
on their slow march north, loved
the names of indiana’s most exotic
towns: tippecanoe, prophetstown.
lebanon. this time the kudzu is nearly
to Cincinnati. there’s no taking back
the south now. it’s important to know
when to let something go under,
when there’s nothing to salvage.
what would we even be trying to save?
this will all seem better in a hundred years,
behind panes of glass wiped smooth.
history has a way of making everything
worth looking at again. i say let it all
be swallowed, give someone else
the joy of discovery. i stop at a gas station
outside of farmer city, a real place,
and i am kind to the woman behind the counter.
it is the first time i am soft in weeks.
given enough time, the south
can snarl anyone. sometimes it’s easier
to be kind to strangers. i am driving
again, from one home to another
separated by land quilted with corn,
wheat, alfalfa. how many homes can one
person claim? it is also easier to be cruel
to strangers. how long until the kudzu
covers them all?