A Cure for Grief

by Emily Franklin
Featured Art: Still Life With Apples and Pears by Paul Cézanne
Read by the author.

There isn’t one. But here is a pot of jam,

apricots plumped with booze, lemon rind, sugar—

the stuff of August evenings,

of dirt roads trimmed both sides

with heavy woods that narrow and finally

funnel to the ocean. To the house

on Buzzard’s Bay—deck built, rebuilt,

expanded and rotted, built again, everyone

toe to thigh on chairs, neither comfortable

nor attractive, scattered each afternoon

as we scrubbed clams collected in low tide

or painted rocks or read the paper

or stared out as though we knew it was always

on the verge of ending. Those nights,

jackknifed open with wind and visitors,

dinner not yet cooked, someone asking

someone else what was ready to be picked;

green beans knocking like wind chimes,

nubby new potatoes, the summer’s experiment

with asparagus that we wouldn’t trim—

each stalk pushing and protruding until it appeared

a new creature had clawed its way up from the earth.

Now I offer this: apricot jam from last summer

that we did not know was last. Your instructions:

unscrew the Mason jar, cribbed from the Cape pantry.

Each morning you will awake alone. This is when

you dip your teaspoon or knife into the jam

or even your piece of actual bread. No one is judging—

insert crust directly into jar. Taste the apricots.

For this moment have summer—

and him—back. The jar is large. So is grief.

This is what you’ll sample each day,

fruit slipping against lemon, and sugar, and time.

When the jar is empty, days will have been

gotten through, too.

 

The porch is rotting now, joists breaking loose,

everything undone as though he—and the rest of us—

are already gone, but let us be suspended

right there at 5pm, drinks in hand,

sun still up, children barely grown.

Eat the jam. This is all we have to offer.

 


Emily Franklin is the author of numerous novels. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the London Sunday Times, The Cincinnati Review, The Rumpus, DIAGRAM, Mississippi Review, Lunch Ticket, New Ohio Review, Passages North, North Dakota Review, Monkeybicycle, and The Chattahoochee Review among other places as well as featured and read aloud on National Public Radio, and named notable by the Association of Jewish Libraries.

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