Poetry | August 19, 2021

Of Vinegar    Of Pearl    (an excerpt)

V. Penelope Pelizzon

 

“The elements return to the body of their mother.”  —Paracelsus

1.

Like pulp-and-spittle wasps’ nests

built in their season to last

only until winter, bones

crumble in her as she sits.

She sections the day’s clemen-

cies into mouthfuls, hawks out

any bitter pips, swallows

good pungence with sips of smoke

—Lapsang Souchong or Laphroaig,

depending on the hour—

preferring solitude to

solicitude from the kind,

including her children who

were hard to bear and are hard

now to hear. Nine decades have

drawn her, masterwork of ten-

don and vein illustrating

frailty condensing to one

ferocious node, a will still

refusing to cede. But now?

When the heart no longer turns

the blood’s tide. When fluid pools,

refusing to be sluiced back

into its channels. She’s walked

so far down the strand that seals

barely lift their heads as she

steps over them, returning

finally to her sisters.

She’s up to her knees now in

a flosh of her body’s own

sea-wash. Dying? Or dying-

ish? Is this it? Is it this?

 

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