"Dulle Griet (Mad Meg)," c. 1562 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

My mother’s wooden spoon hangs
on a nail.
A thin leather string twists
against the unpainted kitchen wall
below her crucifix.
Like any other wood spoon, it hangs
upside down, dries
new stains,
and smells like everything.

Black electrical tape mends its centre
from when she had to defend
herself; she lets me taste from it;
she says: “it gives me a good grip now, see?”  
Her face smiles, stable 
as pressed cotton.

Into her garden
bare feet across wet grass
she bends, sits
cross legged in fresh turned soil.
A mound of earth between her legs
cool in the rhubarb’s shadow
june leaves as big as her body, she rips
testing rumours of poison.

She adores her elemental fire
her mountain ghosts.
She digs.

She digs

Nails full of planet
(looks over her shoulder) she
wooden spoons into the ground
upright standing
the root will take, right?

“It was a tree once”:
a laurel wood like match sticks
good for setting fires, good
for wooden spoons
to make cakes, meals, children behave, behind the bamboo fences.
Ironwood alder chestnut walnut
ash poplar koa
she likes the way “cocobolo”
makes her lips

lignum vitae, carved
into something else:
an implement
a shallow bowl at a handle’s end
but it’s still a tree

(her knees circles of dirt)
in between tomatoes peas cucumbers

dig digdig

A ceremony of spoons, her
quiet declarations, her rites
of necessary things and
Mad Meg’s inclination to run the bulwarked streets headlong to answer the measureless mouth …

She pats the earth: “there
there,” as the neighbours wonder

how far she will go?


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