The Maynard
Fall 2017

James Cagney

Ode to a Desiccated Olive

When the Greek farmer plopped
you plush and pregnant into my palm
he explained that when shucked
of your meat and pounded gently,
your pit excretes a mild antibiotic

Instead I carefully stirred you between
rudder and wave of my churning fingers, then
let you exhale on the countertop like a weeping battery

Beneath your crown of leaves
a pubescent froth curls and naps
with an acrid cologne of wood smoke

Left to simmer above time’s distracted watch
you dimple and age into an amber compass
pointing like a nipple to the tongues’ north star

I caress the grandmothered keloid
of your consecrated surface
so that you may come to Jesus on my altar of breath

Remind this tongue how once
an engorged earlobe was combination
lock opening a soprano’s scale of moans
     Unfold your map of flavors
from vine to the secular intersection of oil and bread

Medicinal and mythical
you are a clairvoyant paragraph
punctuated with blossoms
of aspirin and eyelashes

If you take the place of my heart
let my veins be the roots of the tree
that brought you here

I know...

this     is like asking
the rain in your lover’s hair
to fall back
     through the sky