Two Poems by Rebecca Macijeski
Death’s First Lesson
Death’s small feet hang over the edge of the couch.
Her grandmother teaches her to knit, feeding yarn
between the needles, always working and passing.
Death watches the loops of color slide
along the machine of her grandmother’s hands.
Soon a pattern generates, astonishing as a tumor or a shroud,
and death’s own hands begin to fill with stitches.
After so many repetitions and sips of hot chocolate
her grandmother comes to the end of her strand, ties it off,
pulls it tight in the crook of the girl’s scissors.
Death braces her feet against the edge,
holds the bright yarn steady, takes a breath, and cuts.
— ∞ —
Death’s Mother Shows Her How to Eat Clams
Open their strange clattering.
Coax the pink muscles from calcified ears.
Gather them into a cool ceramic bowl,
their soft saltiness seeping out.
Heat quarts of cream. Do this on a cold day,
preferably a damp one, in New England,
in a kitchen where you can see the sea,
and gulls flicker in and out of your window
startled by their buoyancy in the thick coastal air.
Peel dozens of little potatoes. Swipe away their surfaces,
reveal the white earths inside.
Feel your knife work through them,
toss them in the pot, their starch
blooming into warm roil. Add handfuls
of bright parsley. Bend low over the steam—
the heat and clams and cream lilting primordial
up and out of the simmering world and into
this kitchen where clams have finished opening
into soup. Neighbors will come. The salt of the earth
will settle in spoons, settle in us, clamor home again
through laughter, through broth, through our bodies,
through each passing down from generation to generation
as you fill hulled loaves of bread with ladles from the pot,
with the promise clams make when they’re pulled from sand,
jagged shells flashing in the fog.
Rebecca Macijeski received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2011 and is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Nebraska where she serves as an Assistant Editor in Poetry for Hunger Mountain and Prairie Schooner. She has attended artist residencies with The Ragdale Foundation and Art Farm Nebraska, and participated in Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Project in October of 2014. Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, Potomac Review, Gargoyle, Painted Bride Quarterly, Nimrod, Sycamore Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Fourteen Hills, and many others. Read more at www.rebeccamacijeski.com.