Rose Petal Jam

by Samara Bouie

          My great grandma danced in the Holy spirit
           couldn't crush grapes beneath her feet and
              spoke in a shattered monotone and
       One sound trembled out in all its little pieces, but
               It played beautiful gospel music

               Through the slack suit of her skin
            Fallen face, smoky sandy eyes she was
       Shown through herself the way Christianity shows
                      Through a cross
                 A distinct shine like sunlight
              With all her years joining together
                    The spectrum of color

             It frightens you to see what is not real
   She was old, weak, and born black in the eighteen hundreds
                Still the hands survived all that
 She came on you like the full yellow moon in the black sky and
                      Asked for an arm
       Feel it up and down gnawing like a dog on a bone
                 Until the flesh was tendered
         And that's how she'd name you with no sense
    Because she had the eyes and ears of a drowning man, but
                  The touch of a wild animal

  She had could wash clothes against splintered wood in winter
In the old days when lye was how poor people got them self clean
          Had to be stronger than life as old as she was
                her hands were strong as ever
            I believe that's where she kept her soul
         Right down in her hands where she could use it

   All her kin came at once to see her in a beautiful bouquet of
           Summer blossoms tangled up in their buds
          The only one allowed to cook was grandma
           That way all the food came out soul food
               A delicious way to save the soul

               Grandma made with her two strong hands
      Blue flames waved against a scarred pot heating sugar water
       Thick as syrup while streams of lemon juice squeezed in
      Bunched like a stack of collard greens some thirty large and
                          Red cabbage roses
         I saw the roses turn to blood red candy in the pot and
 I believed in unicorns with wings and mermaids all at once I believed
        If I could taste the color, beauty, and sweetness of roses
                              That I did
           Water sugar lemon roses all together inseparable
          nothing is greater than one Grandma used to say and
                           Everything jams

Rose Petal Jam by Samara Bouie

© Copyright 2001. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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