Glass Jars In Root Cellars

Glass Jars In Root Cellars

What good is it to open jars

long-sealed on cellar shelves?

Rimmed in dust,

and encrusted in spider eggs?

If I took them off the cellar shelf-

(shuddering at the wispy touch of mummy silk)

would light reveal preserves or rot?

Could I hear the hallow sound

if I pinged the lid with my knuckle?

Would the dull thud reveal  sooty strings of decay?

A seal broken by the years?

a stench of you long gone in the ground….

Or could I hold it to a light,

swinging on the end of a chain,

where the memories would be rich ruby red.

I’d climb the planks

of stairs,

feel the breath of cellar rock

at the nape of my neck.

I’d stride to the light,

and hold the memories high.

Maybe then to examine for cracks,

leaks of air, bulging sides.

Sniff for foul.

Would the memories hold with examination?

Or would the first touch of air dust the insides?

Just as I am sure your body now resides in dust…

I take the church key,

apply with surgical precision,

pry the lid back,

and wait…

Whiffs of crème de mint, Tanqueray, Oreos,

flypaper spit, and cigarette smoke,

on a late night prairie train…

with the Perseids

showering us in August,

melting across a Kansas sky.

Then they are extinguished…

 burnt up….

Like we are long since dead,

you in your coffin,

and I in my glass jar memories…

First published in Poetry Pacific, 2015 and in in The Poeming Pigeon, the Food Edition, 2015

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