Artichokes

I should have known you would eat
artichokes in this way: diving into their centers
like a bee in flowers, searching
for nectar, for what you need
to create honey from your small body.
You peel away petals, dip passionately
in white sauce, creamy like my milk you savored
those four sweet years. Mom, watch how I do it,
you say, scrape the meat with baby teeth.
Together we peel as each inner layer reveals
increasingly tender leaves that lead
to the heart. You at my left breast, ready.
And me peeling shirt, bra.
Then your tiny hand reaching
to my center as you touch my cheek,
drink the sweet.

We share this heart, you and me,
daughter and mother, generations of women,
the same heart beating, same blood, same veins,
same shared food: a communion. I say, Here baby, offer you
the bigger half, mushy and dull green. We dip together
like a toast. Instead of glasses clinked, To Life!
we touch parts of one heart in milky sauce
that now covers hands, clothes, table, floor, face.

I should have known you would eat
artichokes this way – with abandon – when moments after
you slid out, a perfect dolphin,
first grey then plum blossom pink,
an open, shimmering anemone,
you latched onto me with the force
of instinct, the force that moves the sea,
pulling like the moon lifts oceans
in watery arcs, crests and waves,
drawing out the woman,
making a mother out of me.

I should have known you would eat
artichokes this way.

 

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