SELECTED FOR
August 2, 2013 Coldfront
This Morning Feature

Famine

No one’s left who watched the crop
go to rot, till even its eye roots oozed.

And the stench — like something the ground
spat out, and worse, the fields caught,

infected right to the doorstep,
knobby lumps gone to mush in the hand.

No one’s left of all those who trudged
toward the sea, stomachs so hollow,

every inedible rock along the road
must have looked like a bitter potato

they’d gladly break their teeth on.

Now at the market varieties are heaped
in bin after bin, dirt-spackled bulbs,

aortas of earth — some from Peru
called papa, so I think of my father’s heart

that gave out before I knew him, arteries
clogged in early blight. Sometimes

making dinner, I lift a potato
to my ear as if even the drub

of absolute silence could be a root.
Later I drink the cooled pot liquor

as I’ve been taught, so nothing is lost.

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