What Will You Feed Them?
Scraping corn till its milk covers
my hands. Silky pile of husks. Tomato,
rosemary, chives from the garden.
Dreaming back far into the flesh of the plant.
How we are plants grown awkward and strange.
We saw the tail hanging from the hawk’s
beak as it flew off, an apple protruding
from the mouth of the deer.
I whisked and pounded, sifted
and sliced. It was mortar
for their bones. It was what
we found in the woods.
The egg that fit so well in my palm
and what came out of it.
Fire. Blood. Fungus.
Muscle. Marrow. Greens.
Nuts and garlic, wild carrot.
It’s the food inside the food,
the invisible heart of the berry,
how it goes on beating
in the hallways of the body.
When the Complete comes to find me
the one question will be, What did
you feed them? As if I could
remember the colors arranged
just so, the balance, a lifetime
of salt thrown into the pot
and whirling there. As if each
bite was language broken
down in the mouth, each word
tasting of its sour its bitter
its sweet, to stem the craving.
What we swallowed all those years—
platter of distress, bowl
of hope. What I chewed—my own
fingers and lip. What did you feed them?
I fed them love. What did you feed them?
Love and bones, gristle,
sermons, air, mercy,
rain, ice, terror and soup, anger and dandelion
and love. What did
you feed them? Go to sleep
in the straw and when you wake up
I will give you something warm in a cup,
I will mix it myself, and when the Complete
finally comes for me I’ll have water
hot on the stove, the tea
just right, I’ll say I’ve sucked
the bread of this life
but I’m never full, I’ll go
with my mouth open—
Ann Marie Macari
What Will You Feed Them? is reprinted from Gloryland (Alice James Books, 2005).