Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ode to Walnuts

Nestled in the pantry corner
among shadows and canned tomatoes,
a paper sack of walnuts
are keeping to themselves.
Hard-shelled weevils
turning their backs to the world;
a colony of knowing spheres,
recalling life among the branches,
singing secret songs
of rain and leaves, wind and blossom,
the mythic fall to earth,
the fall to disparate fates:
to be hoarded by squirrel,
trampled underfoot,
or lifted between thumb and forefinger,
and dropped gingerly into burlap sack.

A paper sack of walnuts,
cool, dry and fissured as a grandmother’s cheek.
Tricksters, making fools of hungry eaters
holding slippery nutrcrackers in unsteady hands,
they leap away and fall again,
uncrackable, to the floor.

Forgive me, my little ones,
my walnut darlings,
for the final vise grip,
the cruel hammer blow,
to expose your crunchy flesh,
scent of wood and earth.

(Why must we hurt the ones we love?)

I will honor you,
your flavor of autumn and smoke,
crowning hot cereal with your proud segments.,
layering you lovingly into baklava—
phyllo, walnut, butter, honey,
phyllo, walnut, butter, and honey—
and you will live on in the warm gazes
of brown-eyed children
whose palms cradle cookies
of chocolate
and spice
and walnuts.

[ inspired by Pablo Neruda's Ode To My Socks and an Anna Balint workshop at Richard Hugo House. ]

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