Monday, September 29, 2014


Usually-- with batches of cookies,
artisan breads, simmering soups--
usually it takes longer than this to recognize failure.
You have to marinate meat for days, even!
Layers of juices and herbs--
thyme, tarragon, basil, dill--
we can’t know right now how we’ll turn out
golden or browned or still bloody and pink.

You’re never at risk with an apple.
Keep it raw, plain, separate,
and you don’t need to worry
if it will taste good;
I mean, almonds speak for themselves.
No one ever complained about a lone,
juicy, red and gold nectarine.

Today I’m making a nectarine gallete.
At home I’ll be slicing globed fruit into thin half moons,
rolling a 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;
the telling moment.

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 this moment, it moves from my control;
it could all burn to ash, those careful folds
and rows, that taste of summer,
glittering sugar and slick gold with red veins;
it could all go to waste now.

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 real 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.

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