Anatomy of a Mason Jar

First you were for cucumbers,
Bread and butter pickles I taught
Him to love, their yellow
Stain brightening egg salad.

Or was it beets, the obscene
Lolling eyeballs of earth. Red.
Your glass a lantern full
Of cloved, impossible sight.

It doesn’t matter. Rusted ring, lid lost,
You have outlasted better glasses
In the cabinet, crystal goblets,
Cheap tumblers, stately beer pints.

Our finest, my pride,
For serving guests wine despite
Hard water marks on your shoulders,
Mineral threads along your neck.

Humble belly of water, tattooed
Name in raised script, you are the vessel
At my bedside, the three a.m.
Wide mouth kiss against parched lips.

Settling back into the down,
When he hands you to me
In the prairie dark of dawn,
You are his clear promise.


7 Responses to “Anatomy of a Mason Jar”

  1. eduardo says:

    Oy! It’s been decades since I last had any bread and butter pickles. (Why do dill pickles get all the store-shelf space?)

    A tangible, detailed, and visual poem. I like the turn away from canning to wine glassery, and thence to (lovelolvelovelovelove this), “the three a.m./Wide mouth kiss against parched lips.” Finally, “his clear(!) promise.”
    I wonder, though. Is this an anatomy lesson, or and ode? Of course, ’tis both.

  2. eduardo says:

    And, since you mentioned beets, this excerpt from the closing of Tom Robbins’, Jitterbug Perfume:

    The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The onion has as many pages as War and Peace, every one of which is poignant enough to make a strong man weep, but the various ivory parchments of the onion and the stinging green bookmark of the onion are quickly charred by belly juices and bowel bacteria. Only the beet departs the body the same color as it went in.

    Beets consumed at dinner will, come morning, stock a toilet bowl with crimson fish, their hue attesting to beet’s chromatic immunity to the powerful digestive acids and throughgoing microbes that can turn the reddest pimento, the orangest carrot, the yellowest squash into a single disgusting shade of brown.

    At birth we are red-faced, round, intense, pure. The crimson fire of universal consciousness burns in us. Gradually, however, we are devoured by parents, gulped by schools, chewed up by peers, swallowed by social institutions, wolfed by bad habits, and gnawed by age; and by the time we have been digested, cow style, in those six stomachs, we emerge a single disgusting shade of brown.
    The lesson of the beet, then, is this: hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown. Once you’re brown, you’ll find that you’re blue. As blue as indigo. And you know what that means:


    • wordweed says:

      Love Robbins very much, and I don’t remember this excerpt. It’s been so long since I’ve read him. He is the master of squeezing quirky philosophy from the most mundane of subjects (and objects!). I should revisit him on my bookshelf as soon as a certain social institution spits me out and reading becomes a pleasure and not a job anymore!

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