Back to Issue Thirty-Four

Setting Lemon Curd


                “The hands of the Almighty are so often to be found
                            at the ends of our own arms.” –Sister Monica Joan

My in-laws think I’m godless. They doubt my lemon curd.
            I say, but watch me cultivate and is my hunger not made

by God? I’ve gone to the grocery again for good butter 
            and eggs. Here I am at home now, cracking open

one speckled egg or—a small reservoir in my chest. 
            Out pours a hard-red amaryllis, my body freesia

dinging along the gas pedal toward church. Toward the field 
            of cattle. Toward groundwater madness, gravy sap.

Toward pie! I say, this is what all lemons want to be
            when they grow up! I say, hallelujah it is well. God

sees beyond the three gushing windows of my body: ribby, 
            spindleshanked, sour-faced—sliding my hand

across a chilling jar. Listen to the cows. The one hawk. 
            The thinly sliced beating heart. The kitchen is wild

with six alarms. Then it is shiny sugar and acid. Then
            it is finished. I catch a glimpse of myself

at daybreak—drip-drying, leafless. At the center of my belly,
            wrapped in a basket: many lemons. Many wooden spoons.



The Bonnie Sun


Sincerely: what is more intimate than swimming
            in the ocean with your beloved? O God, the slick.
The spray. I think of my ex-lover, the last man

to hold me—a wrapped parcel—in salty water.
            Sun-wet and smelling of limeade, my legs wrapped
around him as he boosted me over the waves. I think

of him, my first real sexual partner, and feel full
            of jellyfish. Can I? What if? Our weightlessness,
our whistle-thick tongues, heads back in laughter. Maybe

the sea itself is sexual by nature. Sincerely: the swell
            is mighty. Fish hooks are pushed through my lobes
and someone on the shore is shrieking. The salt settles

in my mouth. It’s complicated and biblical—this big bone
            lick, this allegiance to the first man who touched me
and felt proud. First man of jewel-bright hardness—

of mustard, milk, and gin. Jesus, come quick. I’m hungry
            and I’ve learned how to speak the language:
a cosmic heaving. An orange bucket full of eels.

Megan Denton Ray is the author of Mustard, Milk, & Gin (Hub City Press, 2020) which won the 2019 New Southern Voices Poetry Prize. She holds an MFA from  Purdue University. Her work has appeared recently or will soon in Poetry, The Sun, Salt Hill Journal, The Adroit Journal, Passages North, and elsewhere. She currently lives and teaches in Tennessee.

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