Eating the Forest

I was carrying a silver platter of pulled pork the day Mary Oliver died. I dropped my car keys in the snow and balanced the meat as I bent toward the tufted powder.  Meat for the writers on Phillips Street.  Eight pounds the young man accidentally placed in my husband’s grocery bag.

 

The weight of a baby rested in our freezer for a month before we knew what to do and then Dennis unwrapped the frosted thing – an oversized heart.  He devoted three days to thawing, slow cooking, seasoning, and smoking – and then the sauce boiled from rendered fat.  Some of us picked the meat with our fingers as we wrote.

 

A Virginia ham was the currency used to pay for my birth.  A child in exchange for fifteen pounds of mild cure country meat.  I wish I could say my parents kept the balsa wood box, wrapped me in yellow flannel and nestled me inside – a little coffin between them.

 

Dennis brines wild salmon in the garage.  Turns on the oscillating fan to dry the flesh.  Today, we will pickle ginger and carrots, bake a cake. “Is there a place deep enough in the Bitterroot,” he asks, “where we could do baptisms?”

 

Two Sundays in a row, geese honk over the steeple as we enter. After the Eucharist, I drive to the park by the river. Snow, moose, and calf.  The braided islands, coated in ice.  A Golden Eagle takes flight from a cottonwood.  The wings, my breath.  Bones on cobbles.  The water should be slower.  These brittle edges. Not enough is frozen.

 

And then, more fluff from the sky.  I miss the blood moon, wolf moon, the total lunar eclipse.  Instead, Dennis and I dance to Chuck Berry in the living room.  Particulates rise from the smoker.  A fish for a natal feast.  Water and trees on our tongues.

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