a one-time shot where initial conditions of dirt
(a continuous factor)
and H – 2 – O from the sky combine to produce
magnificent roots that achieve colors like vermilion,
creamy buckskin, and opaque amber.
Colors that I cannot shake,
the firmness of flesh engorged by rain-soaked soil
a carrot eased out of the earth
in a reversal of up not down
just touching it, the pressure of soft fingers—
it snaps like rocks fracturing
far up a valley. I hold
a broken star.
Still life with root vegetables, the image I cradle
more than a recipe—an entire history
roots dug mud-caked with cold feet.
My still-life smells of musky ground and heavy names
like Bull’s Blood and Saint Valery. The beet yields,
knife-cleaved into alternating rings
of white and red. Bleeds a boldness leaching
into iciness of robes, and collars, virgin dresses
and cold marble. Life stilled
no squirming, wiggling or interrogating . . .
the turnip I pull with both hands, wet
and sweet-bitter Russian-rooted Petrowski—
archival as cloth-paper, creamy as antimacassars—
with a knife I cut the flesh—
whack each hunk again and again
into smaller and smaller bits—
like family wealth passed down.