The Clerestory Podcast S1 E25

The Oklahoma Tenant Farmer and Me
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Cucumbers sprawling in garden
insects tickling yellow flowers
invisible fungi     bacteria
we grow together     lives entwining

Your light green unruly leaves
curling tendrils wrap the trellis
small bodies cling to vines

My hands pull you away
though you prickle my palms
I should wear gloves                                                  
but want your assault
take pleasure
rubbing off your spines
under cold trickling water

Let you sleep as I stir pure salt into 
pitcher of water from the well
sixty-four feet down
welcoming the microbes
riding August air

I snug your
dark green bodies
into sparkling jars with
garlic cloves and grape leaves
pepper corns    dill seeds and fronds, 
surround you with brine
cap loosely 
carry you into the cool
rock and earth cellar
check each day as your
bright green dulls
brine goes cloudy
liquid spills out and over
small molds adhere to
spoon as I clean your home
add more brine
push you below liquid
weight you down
with small jar or stone

A week or more I tend    wait
and finally       

From inside my mouth your
flavor speaks
and now as I chew
as we become one
it's the Lower East Side
peddlers’ stalls selling apples,
stall-tenders calling out bargains—
finest brown eggs, giant beets,
biggest carrots, cabbage for
kraut or slaw
and the crusty smells—
knishes, bialys, baked potatoes—
but my mother-in-law's
hungry mother Francis,
escaped from school,
hurries to the pickle cart
hoarded lunch nickel
clutched in fist
crunch of ferment
fished from the barrel
just for her
brine trickling down her hand
nose and tongue tingling
alive to sour and salt

Anne Bower lives in rural Vermont where she teaches tai chi and trains others to become tai chi instructors. With produce from the organic garden she and partner James Rose grow she invents seasonal meals, ferments pickles, makes chutneys, jams, pestos, and enjoys partaking of the food traditions of many regions. She is the author of three chapbooks, has published poetry in Gemini Magazine, The Raven's Perch, Naugatuck River Review, Evening Street Review, and other journals, and has written books and articles on food and culture. Learn more on her website.

Discover more from Anne Bower.