HOUSEHOLD MAGICFirst, you find a jar of figs
that's stood too long preserved
to eat without some fear
of poisoning. Then you pry
it open with a silver knife
you borrow from you mother's
chest of tarnished treasures. Lift
the jar up to your nose and breathe
the fumes that sugar makes,
with lemon. Think, "This smells
too good to throw away . . . ."
But do it anyway, to squash
suspicion. Just not in the trash
or compost pile, not with sugar.
You need a hole in the front yard
where every summer someone
twists an ankle or trips and falls,
where every summer you have stood
and said, "We need to fill this in."
Then toss it, after dark, when no one's
looking in your yard, and lights are out,
and winter's cold, and you are sleeveless.
You have to make an incantation,
something like "Here's to fig preserves."
By spring, nothing will have happened,
except you will respect your mother more
for growing figs; and you will start letting
go of jars you've kept for years,
preserving figs and grapes you won't eat,
not in this lifetime anyway, as if
your house is a pyramid instead of
just a country home. Out front,
you plant a brown Turkey fig to seal
the hole and it reaches for the sun.
Copyright 2000, Felicia Mitchell
Felicia Mitchell teaches creative writing at Emory & Henry College.
Her poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies.
Her chapbook Earthenware Fertility Figure was a 1999 first-place
Switched-on Gutenberg/Vol. 4, No. 2