I practice a fair bit of kitchen witchery, so it is no surprise to me that I woke up this morning thinking about cinnamon. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, cinnamon bark is used for a wide variety of ailments, including: headaches, anemia, reduced lung qi, muscles spasms, and, most humbly, gas. Whenever I smell cinnamon, I think of Michael Ondaatje’s beautiful and sensual poem, “The Cinnamon Peeler”: a poem about the persistent fragrance of cinnamon on a man’s hands and how its aroma lingers on his wife after he makes love to her. Presumably, the cinnamon peeler never suffered from persistent gas.
“What good is it
to be the lime burner’s daughter
left with no trace
as if not spoken to in the act of love
as if wounded without the pleasure of a scar.
You touched your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon peeler’s wife. Smell me.”
– “The Cinnamon Peeler'”, Michael Ondaatje
What is a poem? Can anyone definitively explain what makes something a “poem”? I’m not sure. I do know that when I sent this message to a friend of mine, it felt like a poem. Maybe because they are a poet? Maybe because I am a poet? Maybe we are all poets?
Writing messages to you on Facebook is like placing a note at the Western Wall. You, like G-d, may not respond to me, but I am pretty sure you hear me when I pray.
Image: “Paper Prayers in the Western Wall” by Yarin Kirchen of InfinitelyDigital (http://www.flickr.com/people/25829755@N00)
This work, “Dear Andre” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
At the back table of the all-night diner
She drinks her coffee from a paper cup
Watching it form a Venn diagram on the Formica table top
As she searches for logical relations
She left him when he laid his hands on her
She folded up her unworn wedding dress into a garbage bag
And walked away without turning for a last look at the home they made together
He told her that she would never be loved again
And in the ten years since, he has been right
Now she sits in restaurants collecting the scent of sausage in her hair
As she traces her secrets out on paper place mats speckled with egg yolk
Catching the reflection of her pursed lips in a teaspoon
When did those lines get etched around her eyes?
When did she start feeling tired all the time?
When did she stop believing she would grow up to be a princess?
Somewhere in the dark of another night alone
She accepted a tough job that doesn’t pay enough
And the reality that there would be no more bonfires on the beach
With beer bottles blazing amber in the flames
And a set of strong arms to keep her from drifting away
She learned to eat carbs instead of wishing on dandelion fluff
She learned to solve crossword puzzles instead of looking for answers
Finding her truth in the static that crackles on the radio
As country and western plays over clattering dishes
Through the twang of pedal steel and pull of bluegrass
She sees the long, chugging train brush against the steel grey sky
Whistling across the miles of flat farmers’ fields frozen hard
And leaving her behind again
The emptiness in her heart swells until it strains the uneven stitches she used to sew it back together
Gossamer spider webs collect on flickering light bulbs
As another coffee refill slops into her soggy cup
The brown liquid seeps out the bottom as she raises it to her lips
Staining her over-washed linen skirt
Knowing that she will never be happy or free
She drifts away…
This work, “Aggregation of Things” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Happy Mother’s Day to:
The mothers that said goodbye and hello at the same time
The mothers who are also fathers whether by choice or by circumstance
The mothers whose children they haven’t seen in years
The mothers who shared their babies with other mothers so that their children could go farther
The mothers who joyfully received other mothers’ babies, continuing the legacy of love
The mothers who have children with four legs and/or feathers and/or tails and/or scales
The mothers whose bellies have never been full and their arms are always empty
The mothers who weep each month and pray for someday
The mothers who looked at the test and cried with fear
The mothers who didn’t want to be mothers
The mothers who couldn’t stop mothering
The mothers whose children made bad Life choices
The mothers whose children went on to save the world in their own unique way
The mothers whose little ones she calls “special” when others say “different”
The mothers that tear down walls, bust balls, and lead revolutions
The mothers that rule from the kitchen with a spoon for a scepter
The mothers that rock heels, hiking boots, Doc Martins, and Birkenstocks
The mothers that wear the pants in the family, the apron in the family, the derby uniform in the family, and the fishnet stockings in the family
The mothers who are mothers regardless of presumed gender or genital arrangement
The mothers who love other mothers and co-mother children together
The mothers who bed their children in wet doorways
The mothers who have colour co-ordinated their children’s backpacks and lunch boxes
The mothers who wake up at 3 AM first with sore nipples and then years later to worry about missed curfews
The mothers who bring forth bread from the earth
The mothers who came before
The mothers who will come after
The mothers who have never come at all
And to The Mother who returns us to Herself when it is time.
This work, “Mother’s Day” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.