1. Johnny Cottonwood is dying like a flooded wetland.
2. It’s this long-life green tea that’s got me blue.
3. His body in a box at the altar, Karen kissing the box.
4. I see flies in the house like a puff of smoke from the Vatican.
5. Jeffrey B., the name we used with affection.
6. It is a beautiful box, made by his father, of poplar.
7. Rabbits ran all over the yard and beer was in the cooler.
8. We all drank the scotch.
9. The yellowing cottonwoods of Hell’s Canyon and no Johnny to see them.
10. Three cheers for the rabbits in the yard.
11. He lost track of time and was out in the field these past few years.
12. Little Bean was falling down.
13. Three weeks from now you will have no more casseroles.
14. Your dog will howl for Jeff.
15. He called it his little precious radio.
16. His research activities spanned multiple trophic levels.
17. Poplars will hold their own symposiums. Algae will be keynote speakers.
18. It is a beautiful box; on the sill overlooking northern Idaho.
You don’t have to snip its spikes
off with your kitchen scissors; you
don’t have to baste it with oil
and lemon juice, or stuff it with
pecorino, bread crumbs, and parsley.
You don’t even have to be a good
cook. You only have to steam it,
and let your teeth scrape out the
mild meat of that bud’s leaves.
Whoever you are, no matter how
lonely, the artichoke opens itself
to you. If cooked gently, the leaves
pull silently away from the heart.
If eaten gently, the heart remains
intact until the last bite. We cannot
know anything we do not know first
through our hands and our mouths.
There is never enough time to fully
eat an artichoke. There is time to
eat slower than you ever thought
possible. This act is a self-portrait
in sepia tones. You do not have to
look at the portrait. Many will.
After the artichoke leaves sit in their bowl on the table,
after the sky darkens and we no longer see out the windows,
and the empty wine glass is refilled, carried to the sagging chair
by the window, after the cat staring down moths at the screen door
calms and climbs to my lap in the chair-
after you draw me across the room into bed with sheet
and pillows and cat and after the love we make and
after the ghost of its presence makes itself a canopy
to our bed and slowly, slowly leaves us to sleep and turn
and sweat in the humid rest, after even Black Lake eases
into a few hours good company with itself, after the
acceptance of restlessness, morning does not come
all at once. Wine glass on the wooden armchair, orange peel
on top of the compost bucket, child in the next apartment
crying for milk and affection. For myself and the morning,
unannounced half-s–second shutter in the window,
my life caught aware, sowing its upended, skyward hours.
Lilah Hegnauer‘s Dark Under Kiganda Stars was published by Ausable Press in 2005 and was an honorable mention for the 2007 Library of Virginia Literary Award. She received an MFA from the University of Virginia and her poems have been published in Kenyon Review, St. Ann’s Review, Orion, The Drunken Boat, and So to Speak. She was runner up for the 2007 Astraea Lesbian Writers Award and lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“As a child, my sister and I used to roller skate up and down the front porch of our parents’ house. Being that this was Washington state and it rained a lot, we used to spend many afternoons playing on our roller rink’ when it was too wet to play outside.'”