Usually it takes longer than this to recognize failure.
Batches of cookies take a few hours; breads, a few more.
How could we know now how we’ll turn out—golden or brown or bloody and pink?
You’re never at risk with an apple.
I mean, almonds speak for themselves.
No one ever complained about a lone nectarine.
Still, you’ll find me slicing nectarine globes into thin half moons,
rolling buttery dough into a wide round,
arranging those slivers into concentric circles,
layered like the petals of a flower;
I’ll fold the crust over itself, the pleats of a dress,
and I’ll put it all in the oven.
This still-pale crust, folded over,
brushed with egg, dusted with sugar
spiral of yellow converging at its center,
brief hearts dipped with deep red,
each part touched with my hands--
See? sugar under my fingernails,
the stain of juice on my blouse,
I made all of this, pieced it
together all afternoon for you.
In one moment, it moves from my control;
when into the oven go those careful folds
and rows, that taste of summer,
glittering sugar and slick gold with red veins.
What I mean to say is, sure! You’re right!
My stupid oven could this whole beautiful thing
into a charred and hardened brick! And summer
could turn you and me, these nights swimming
in overturned heaven in the lake,
into choking anxiety or hot disdain--
but it’s just dough and fruit now,
and the oven turns nectarines into jewels,
that egg-slicked crust into hammered gold,
studded over with diamonds of sugar,
and you will never love the taste of rolled dough
between my fingers, and nothing good can come
of unbaked, unpolished fruit,
scattered in nervous pieces,
on my kitchen counter.