Peg Duthie – Four Poems

Deep and Crisp and Even

We don’t get snow like that in Nashville
but maybe twice a decade. The rest of the time
it’s just a dusting or a glaze
like you’d find on a coffeecake – we
do like to talk in the language of desserts:
Sugah. Honey. Sweetie pie.
We love the one slice too many, the body’s
sleepy struggle to house so much
contentment. We love
the insistent brightness of bells,
the heart-piercing persistence of ancient carols:
Ye who now will bless the poor… We put
another pan of apples into the oven.


Home Supper Home

Instead of a gingerbread cottage, we
have built a sushi cabin, with nori logs,
a scallion stovepipe, and a carrot door,
and a netsuke-sized retriever-shaped radish
snoozing by the cucumber steps. We’ve sealed
the seams with the same sticky rice
mounded around the rest of the serving plate
to suggest drifts of snow. Still warm,
it clings to our chopsticks, napkins, itself,
reminding me of how your mittens are damp
and your hair, too – the afternoon’s flurry
defying both our efforts to brush it off and out
and the light in your eyes as we laughed about it.



Every time I revisit your Christmas card,
I end up with silver dust in my lap.
This, I tell Rina, is the kind of ghost
I’d like to become: a memory
material enough to survive the years beyond me
yet light on the heart and light to the eyes
such that I remain a welcome guest.



Upstairs, a razor parts clouds of foam
as it scrapes away a five o’clock shadow.
Downstairs, a disc-blade grinds
pucks of ice into heaps of clean snow
devoured in an instant, every dish
pounced upon as soon as it’s anointed
with a syrup of summer: cherry, lime,
blueberry… While we wait
for the rest of the guests,
and more of the food,
and the roar and rustle of games
to overtake the radio’s burble of carols,
you pluck at the page-a-day calendar,
forming a nest out of the orphaned shreds
of earlier weeks. Your smile
is self-mocking and almost serene,
and I love you as much for the “almost”
as for your willingness to wait
for answers not yet hatched
and comfort not yet cradled into being.