by Ginny Masullo
Recipe for Down Time
Silence the ringer on your telephone.
Turn off the machine that answers to everyone.
Hide in your kitchen when anyone knocks.
Guard the time as you would
a colicky baby who finally sleeps.
Assume your home is on a green lake
that can be reached only by blue boats.
Know there are no blue boats.
Slice an onion into thin moons.
Fill the bottom of a cast iron pot
with virgin oil. Chop a yellow potato
into tiny pieces. Sizzle with the moons.
Wait by the window. Watch
the bamboo blow and bend
from westerly winds.
Hear only the air and moons
Know silence is best served
warm and alone.
I grew up watching uncles boil coffee,
shoot small animals, hang their hides
in the sun. The aunts sipped coke-cola,
one aspirin fizzing in the bottle,
the buzz easing the weight of Chevy parts
piled high in dusty yards and those blackened eyes
they packed with a green hot poultice,
wrung from the juice of stinging nettle.
Now I wait for my husband to eat
pea soup from the can, throw axles
and fenders among flower beds.
Burn his coffee, leave the cleaning
to me. Push my legs open
for some false forgiveness.
My husband cleans the pots
I burn, builds me a house
to keep out the cold war.
Rocks only me in our lacy bed.
Puts stone deer in our front yard.
Swears he’ll be eternally true.
Twenty years of clean cookware
and a love I could call pure,
I watch and wait for a lapse
I will not forgive.
In winter’s dust beneath my bed,
I find my dark skinned daughter.
Her arms lie limp across her chest,
her thin veined eyelids closed.
Cobwebs fall around her like a silver
caterpillar casing, she lies among
tea tarnished spoons, the rag for shining
in languid hand. I crawl beneath the bed
and lie beside her, breathe into her ear.
her nostrils flare and her eyelids flutter.
I pull her into the light. Yes.
I have found you now. Forget
that rag for shining. We shall
eat from the spoons just as they are.
A Wife and Mother
Her plate is full. Bean sprouts, eggs, cucumbers
on a bed of lettuce and shredded carrots,
smothered in a spicy sweet peanut sauce.
It sits before her. Her son and husband
without asking take a cucumber, eat
by the spoonful the brown sticky dressing.
She is quiet watching her own dinner
disappear to those who have their own
but want what is hers. Finally she snaps,
Barking like the bitch dog fierce at her bone.
The Muse Wants You to be Messy
The muse wants you to be messy.
She wants you to leave
the closet door open,
dirty clothes spilling out
like a brown river.
Call in sick, walk to the river,
slide down the muddy bank,
stay there long enough
to watch the waters swell
Move farther and farther up the shore
to the rusted bridge
where you stand
until the water washes your feet.
Let the wind whip you home,
sit on your white couch.
Eat pistachios, lick the salt off the shells,
read each one like a fortune.
Then sleep, muddy clothed and weary
from wind and river.
Awake with a knowledge
that you have been taken
for a ride and you liked it.
Step through the nut shells
to sit at your blank blue canvas.
Don’t bother to call in sick again.
They will fill your slot easily enough.
But you, there is only one of you
and the muse wants you to be messy.
Give Her: color, slapdash brightness
blurry red hibiscus green trees that reach
into blue lakes reflecting
green lake, green sky, blue trees.
Bring baskets of aspen yellow leaves
into your home. Scatter them
for your carpet, your bedspread.
Greet the muse with raised arms.
She wants you to be her lover
tousled, oiled, unkempt, soft jaw
parted lips, limp limbed, in awe.
Be Her guest. Drink Her wine
Sit at Her wide easel.
Paint for Her imperfect red apples.
Slice the apples open.
Let the muse feed you
their tart, white flesh.
Ginny Masullo – Artist Statement
Working as registered nurse to support her habits of pen, paddle and hoe, Masullo writes daily, gardens in the rocky Arkansas soil and traverses the clear rivers of the Ozarks in her red canoe.
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© 2002 GINNY MASULLO • ALL RIGHTS RESERVED