A Rhyme

The Iowa Review - - MARY QUADE -

There’s enough to feed him, but he es­chews the ethe­real cheese, the froth of cream, the last dear course of the evening. He’d rather suck on bones, nib­ble leaves like a worm. A cow makes milk for a rea­son, I tell him, my but­ter melt­ing into warm bread. My flesh is cake spread with ic­ing skin. His is di­luted, un­for­bid­den fruit—mealy where it should be sweet.

My back grows darker than my front—for­ever bent over weeds, the damp plants lam­bent and lazy against my yank­ing, the petal­if­er­ous haze. My days of stained hands, soiled knees, trowel stab­bing around the roots, dis­lodg­ing. Of course I’m contrary— to the bells drip­ping with jew­eled dew, the queue of lit­tle maids wait­ing to be picked, to be ar­ranged in a still life, the vase choked with stems.

It’s true he couldn’t keep me— I was al­ways go­ing bad— soft around a bruise, a creep­ing taint some­where in­side. A pump­kin can’t help its hol­low­ness, its cold body rat­tling with seeds. A year stores months of pump­kins, and from where I sit, I can see years, bulging be­fore me, ten­driled

to­gether, lu­mi­nes­cent as warn­ings. He plunged the knife in, scooped out the ner­vous sinews. I sup­pose any home can be a ra­di­ant shell.

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