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.