Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

Tag: Comfort

Morning Cup

The glimpse of blue
yesterday
has once again
been muffled by grey.
The bare trees
drip.
The eaves
drip.
And the coffee maker
drips.
But its steaminess
releases the scent
of leather books, conversations, and contemplation
as the incessant March rain
nonetheless
unleashes sprout from bulb
and leaf from bud.
As it sputters
its final sighs,
not death by drowning—
but morning life
into my waiting cup,
it pours.

The Grace of Holiday Illness

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In this busy season
of hall-decking, shopping
windshield-scraping, visiting, and baking—
a cold that settles
into the chest
to rumble
cough
hack
and wheeze,
slows the days enough to
feel the hair
of a red-headed boy
under my chin while watching Elf
and to host an early pajama party
to ring in New Year’s
on East Coast time.
On the year’s first day
we had no need for black-eyed peas,
and simmered instead a pot
of chicken soup to soothe and warm—
our bowls overflowed with luck already.

Breakfast in Bruges

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It’s a good sound,
the sizzling and popping
of oil in the pan
over high heat
as the egg is freed from its shell
on its way to becoming breakfast.

The sound of time
and ease and care,
decadent in its
splayed open richness.

Even as the edges are singed—
albuminous white
the stuff of muscle and doing
grown firm and strong
from trial by fire,
the yolk remains
its perfect liquid center, golden orb.

The whole upon the plate
is as resilient
and delicate
as the human heart cracked open.

A boiled egg, in comparison
in the armor of its calcified shell
is quieter
reserved, and more demure,
even as it nourishes
the same.

Canning Comfort

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I stock the old pine cupboard with rows of mason jars
full of plump bing cherries
from this year’s record crop,
each one hand-plucked and pitted
and steeped in sweet red wine.

Five pounds at a time, I first wash,
then pluck, pluck, pluck
the stems from their belly buttons
fully ripe, their cords had let go of their mother’s arms
into the farmer’s hands,
then from the pile I
pick, squeeze, pit—
each stone hits the bowl
with a joyous ping.

I stock the old pine cupboard with rows of mason jars
forty-one quarts so far,
the result of ninety pounds of pitted fruit
and a generous case of wine.

Next to them rests a single jar
of old fashioned strawberry jam
the only one left from last year’s harvest,
back when cooking and canning
was simply done
to capture and preserve
summer’s sweetness at its peak,
before it was a meditation
to cope with grief,
an attempt to be present in a rhythmic task,
to feel the comfort of the hearth
the reassurance that seasons continue
another following the one that came before.

Needing to fill the old pine cupboard with rows of mason jars
sends me to the market
on the bricked and cobbled street,
the one they close each Sunday
and fill with farmers’ stalls,
street musicians, and sidewalk poets,
where I find peaches
whose scent of blossoms and sweet love
reaches my nose
before my eyes can notice
the cases filled with layers of their seductive shapes.

Like everything else this year they’re early,
before I’m ready,
and there’s no one left to make jam for
no one to enjoy his breakfast each morning
trimmed with jewels of peach, his favorite.

So I pass them by
and choose ninety more pounds of bing cherries
enough for a year of restaurant menus,
to return to my ashram of copper pots
and feel the comfort of a full larder
well before the weather turns cold.

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