From After April Rain (Longship Press, 2021)

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.