In that kitchen the light comes through the high window onto the heart-pine floors. No one is in it now, the kids are grown and gone. The beautiful paintjob my son did years ago still looks practically new, sea-green trim on the beadboard walls—walls so resiny they’re nearly black, never painted, stained long ago, and luminous with age. In that kitchen the faded little rope of Tibetan prayer flags hangs from the brackets that hold the glass shelf, and on the shelf, telephone pole insulator caps line up, five of them, green and turquoise, and near the shelf, the Oaxacan painted lizard eats the other lizard scrabbling down the wall. Shabby old cupboards, the knobs always threatening to unscrew themselves and fall off. Nicked counter, nicked especially where my husband slammed the hammer down one long-ago argument, about who knows what, then what did I do?—bashed it with a knife to get even. Such a pretty kitchen, but in August, Mississippi, anger boils up like sorghum: sugary, lethal, pitch-thick, too much sweat, too many bugs, too much resentment. Still, kitchen as the heart with all sorts of blood in it, bloody heart, pumping, thick, glistening. The Aztecs lifted the heart high in the sun sacrifice, and for a split second the gutted victim knew outside himself. What an odd thing, the sloshy bucket of the self.
Ann Fisher-Wirth’s fourth book of poems is Dream Cabinet (Wings Press, 2012). Her other books are Carta Marina, Five Terraces, and Blue Window. She is co-editor of The Ecopoetry Anthology (Trinity University Press, 2013). Her current project is a poetry/photography collaboration with the acclaimed photographer Maude Schuyler Clay, called Mississippi. She teaches at the University of Mississippi, where she directs the environmental studies program; also she teaches yoga at Southern Star Yoga Studio in Oxford, Mississippi.