My Aunt Posts Food Pictures on Instagram
by Elizabeth Oxley
Homemade gazpacho, jade basil,
bowl of rosy figs. I thought of her today
when I bought French yogurt
in demure plastic cups, deciding
this must be how Parisians stay thin.
You can have too much of a good thing,
like Colorado sunshine that sucks the forest dry.
Wildfires up north pack my backyard
with ash. I don't know what possessed me
to move this far west. I come from a line
of eastern women—Unami maiden on one side,
seventeenth-century Salem witch on the other
(she was that devastating force, a woman
who spoke her mind). I wish I'd been there,
listening as she told her accusers, come forward,
while deep in New England woods, light
stuttered among foxglove and hemlock
before granting darkness the decisive win.
I was born afflicted with hesitation.
Not my aunt, who's always planted herself
with the underdog and freak, which is to say
with me, in days of my divorce, when depression
strained my seams. She muddled mint for mojitos,
let me cry it out beneath her guest bedroom duvet.
It's twenty-twenty now, year of zeros, the world
starved for beauty. I scroll through her feed:
peppers roasted, rich saffron stew. Her kitchen
is morgue and resurrectory. On her table,
orange begonias. Hair tied back, my aunt
casts the pinch of pink and crucial salt.