These three poems by Stephanie Kadel Taras bare the conflicted heart of a strong woman in a long-term relationship, where love and exasperation live side-by-side, truths give way to compromise, and the self cannot be quieted…
by: Stephanie Kadel Taras
Thinning the Wild Raspberries
Satisfying snap of hollow bones,
last summer’s darlings now sentinels
to temporal truths,
on their way to compost, to next year’s dirt.
Some canes resist twists and tugs,
hold fast to a living base
unwilling to admit their fruitful
time has faded.
But I am invincible in new leather gloves,
anticipating berry pie, or at least
a better bowl of granola,
until a thorn finds exposed skin,
the ghostly blue vein
of my inner wrist
now a cross of blood as if
I am a woman undone.
La Petite Mort
The way I feel about ripping weeds
is not so far from how Sylvia Plath
felt about picking her nose—
“the illicit sensuous delight”
(how we all feel, if we’re being honest,
which poets always are).
In the garden, it’s the good grip
of purslane in my gritty fingers.
The careful tug of succulents to the surface.
Dozens of tiny simultaneous snaps
as bits of root release from bits of dirt
and I know I’ve got it clean.
Each pull a “little death”—
what you tell me the French call an orgasm,
your excuse for why you want to sleep
when my cheek is on your shoulder
and my mind is in the garden
or the kitchen or walking the dogs.
(I’ve been meaning to research your claim,
your French being better than mine,
and you a notorious liar
when it doesn’t matter.
But I always forget by the time I rise
to my work, you to your weed.)
I don’t trust purslane to the compost.
Capable of regeneration from even the
tiniest fragment, root, leaf, stem are all
warriors for life. But it makes a good salad
with yogurt and mint and garlic.
I tell you the truth when I serve it:
“We’re having weeds for dinner.”
You pretend affront but actually don’t
much like it. I knew you wouldn’t.
You want only meat,
which doesn’t grow in my garden,
though you like my potatoes with your steak.
Why do I question
if the moon is really full?
Isn’t it enough that I gasp
to find it rounding the earth
so bright it stains the
flat clouds rose
and lights the ground
where you build me a fire?
Maybe tomorrow’s circle
will be more perfect
but we will have turned
all the way around again
and who knows how I’ll feel
about you then?
Stephanie Kadel Taras has authored multiple books in twenty years as a freelance writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan, including the award-winning college history On Solid Rock and the memoir Mountain Girls. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have been published in Bear River Review, Yellow Arrow Journal, and Belle Journal, and new work is forthcoming in Second Chance and Pages Penned in Pandemic.