Still Life with Cabbage and Clogs
Nights, the artist and the cook
dream the same dream of blooming roots
in simple vessels, of blood pudding,
pails of cool water, cold milk.
All winter the chirr of the artist’s scissors,
his pencil marks erased, mistakes
on creamy Ingres paper.
The cook wears handkerchiefs,
feathers of earliest birds too weak to fly.
When the sharpened cleaver meets
the groove between
stalk and flowering head
obsidian clouds thrust forth.
Small particles coat the frosty air.
The cook warms herself with brandy.
Her granite fingers sigh.
She closes the shutters, mutters
strains and tosses, peels potatoes,
then staggers fireside, serves with honey
and salt on baked clay platters.
She thrusts her feet into wooden clogs,
removes her tattered linen apron
and steps outside the doorframe.
Each evening she feeds scraps to hogs
crisscrosses cow paths
tousling tufts of onion grass.
She walks past the cottage on the heath
the meadow, the elm trees in the churchyard,
the barn with the thatched roof
while the artist studies how
layers peel, bones discard,
and patterns of fields appear in
the eggshell cabbage sprawled wide.
Elisabeth Weiss teaches writing at Salem State University in Salem, MA. She’s taught poetry in preschools, prisons, and nursing homes, as well as to the intellectually disabled. She’s worked in the editorial department at Harper & Row in New York and has an MFA from The University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She’s published poems in London’s Poetry Review, Porch, Crazyhorse, the Birmingham Poetry Review, the Paterson Literary Review and many other journals. Lis won the Talking Writing Hybrid Poetry Prize for 2016 and was a runner up in the 2013 Boston Review poetry contest. Her chapbook, The Caretaker’s Lament, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016.
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