Stephen Gardner

In the antique oak cupboard
there’s one Mason jar with pickles,
gray-green now and surely soft,
his great-aunt cooked and packed
forty years ago. She stirred the brine
with uncommon love. She stoked
the pot to boiling. She knew 

that when her body lay turning
back to soil, someone would hold
this cold and murky soup 
and resurrect her wrinkled face
and toothy smile and she would leap up
to earth, her cherry 50's Buick
warm in the driveway and humming

its eagerness to roll I-95
to North Carolina, where the back roads
are dusted with PCB’s and the Stuckey’s
all sell without apology 
those shabby pecan logs that stick
between your teeth and hang the taste
of bitter shell on the tongue.

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