Canning Season

My mother’s August was a kitchen of steam,
sweat, and vegetables. Corn and peas
piled high in the sink, on the counters,
even the windowsills. Mason jars balancing,
canning wax hot, dripping. Vapor blew
from the pressure cooker, a shrill whistle
that made everyone cringe. I watched
from the doorway, the kitchen off limits,
normal chores excused. Stealing
my cousin’s communion veil, I practiced.
For weeks, television had been a blur
of royal weddings and a princess tucked
behind lace, her face a shadow beneath a veil.
I watched gray tangles of hair sneak
from my mother’s loose ponytail, her hands
a web of blue veins, and I knew my real parents
were royalty. I only needed more proof.
Shoving carrots and cauliflower
underneath the sheets, I stretched
out my bed, watched the dog nudge
the mattress, and waited for mosquito bites
I scratched red and raw, to turn black and blue.

:: Karen Weyant, Stealing Dust (2009)

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