–Remember that one grain of grit can ruin
a whole dish—Katherine Anne Porter
Sometimes an otherwise fine Greek
meal will have grit in the spinach.
Your plate overflows with pan-fried perch,
sautéed baby portabella mushrooms, rice and spinach,
when you comment, “My, this spinach is gritty.”
Your lover, the cook, will rest his hand on the table
and glare at you long after you eat
the spinach and your words.
Sometimes an oak limb will suddenly
break, crushing a car or jogger one dry
summer’s day. Once, a limb crashed through
a bedroom window, killing a mother and
her toddler, who’d run to her bed
frightened by the storm. Once a limb crushed
a jogger, who lived to become a paraplegic
governor. Sometimes a green hummingbird will hover
inches in front of your nose more than one morning
when you are quietly reading in the garden.
And you will imagine it’s your recently
dead mother greeting you, showing off,
checking in. Just like she’s the mourning dove
perched on the eave, cooing
at daybreak. You see her everywhere
saying, take joy in being alive, love the grit.
Somewhere a dog is barking. A small dog
with the kind of bark that hurts your ears.
Two hummingbirds settle in a high vitex
branch, then fly off, looking for nectar, cheeping
in short, high-pitched chirps that sound like toy
ratchets. As usual, doves sit on the telephone
lines. Once I found a hummingbird nest lying
on the ground. Inside were tiny eggs
Susan Ayres is a poet, lawyer, and translator. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing with a Concentration in Translation from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a PhD in Literature from Texas Christian University. Her work has appeared in Sycamore Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Fort Worth and teaches at Texas A&M University School of Law.