I live and write in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, where my husband and I have a small orchard (apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches), and where I am known as Queen of Zucchini far and wide. . . . www.barbaracrooker.com
In pecks and bushels
at Shoemaker’s stand, they fill
the baskets with their golden heft,
their plush shoulders, handfuls
of light. Cut in wedges arranged
on a blue-glazed plate:
slices of sun in the August sky.
Take and eat, for this is the essence
of summer, given for you, in spite of
winter’s sure return, the short grey days,
the icy nights. Right now, there are wheat
fields and sweet corn, daylilies and chicory
by the dusty roadsides; in the long dusk,
fireflies decorate the grass, rise up
to meet their doubles, the stars.
Tonight, there’s fried chicken and sliced
tomatoes, hot biscuits, butter,
and peach jam. And later, you,
next to me on the rumpled
sheets, fuzz on the curve
of your cheeks and thighs,
your slick sweat on my skin.
And tomorrow, another hot one,
and that sweet juicy sun
will pop up again, staining
the horizon red, orange, gold.
-from my book More (C&R Press, 2010)
So, now we’re at the end of the line,
a row of zeros, the 26th step
of a long straight ladder; finito,
basta, the last stroke, the slash
of Zorro’s sword . . . .
And here we find you, deep
in the heart of the garden
at the zenith of summer,
green Zeppelins floating
in a scratchy-leaved sky. . . .
Although you start small,
from an oval tear-shaped
seed, quickly there’s a sprout,
then two heart-shaped leaves,
and suddenly, you’ve taken
over the whole garden, nudged
out the radishes, covered up
the beans, hogged all the sunlight,
growing faster than I can say
ratatouille three times . . . .
In Corsica, my ancestors weeded
around your roots with zappas,
leaned on them to survey their zolas,
small plots, hoed them smooth
as a Zamboni clears the ice . . . .
We serve you up stuffed and broiled
with cheese topping, shredded
in quick bread with raisins and walnuts,
sautéed with tarragon, stewed with tomatoes
and basil, stir-fried in olive oil,
or in a cold zuppa, sour cream
floating on top. We even nibble
your flowers, dipped in batter, golden-fried.
Then, at summer’s end, we find
what’s left, lurking in the leaves:
an enormous baseball bat flung
in the corner, abandoned, waiting
patiently for the seasons to whirl
around again, bringing the start
of spring training, the sun,
rising like the letter A, rosy in the east.
-from my book Gold (Cascade Books, 2013)
©2016 Barbara Crooker
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