|Vincent van Gogh, Mulberry Tree|
A rough draft. For Masha.
UNDER the lemon curd moon, Mrs. Teatree digs in her garden. The baby is sleeping. The dog slouches in the doorway. Mr. Teatree eats tea cakes in candlelight. Perhaps he eats them because the moon's a pastry. Or perhaps the moon is a pastry because he eats them.At any rate, she is here, in the powdered sugar mist. She plants parsley. Parsley planted and grown in the nocturne protects against ogre's eyes, and tastes better.Mrs. Teatree plunges her fingers into the coffee-grind soil and brings her hands out full of earth.She inhales its aroma, so rich she can taste it.Earlier that day, Mrs. Teatree, her husband, and the baby went into town to buy some cinnamon and use the internet. On the corner opposite the market, a boy from the university decked in hemp and dread locks stood sans-soap box with a Sharpie-penned sign denouncing consumerism and the wasteful rituals of the human race.Now in the moonlight, Mrs. Teatree wets her lips. Her tongue sweeps and lingers over the tarragon and scrambled eggs she ate for dinner, the eggs she gathered from under the chicken down in the prickly gray before dawn.Mrs. Teatree brings the soil closer to her face, until her nose is tingling. She breathes it in.Crickets keep time to her heart's beat.The soil travels through her nostrils and fills her lungs. It trickles, sifted flour-like, and packs her feet and calves like stuffing.She curls her toes into the dirt and tastes parsnips.From the eaves, two angels shaped like owls look on.The dog stirs and rambles toward her. He sniffs the scaly bark where there used to be denim. Her hair un-leaves in currents, tossing moss. She drinks the soil deep, from soles to brow.The crickets beat earth's pulse.Mrs. Teatree is a floret-whisk. She stirs the air and throws in succulent ingredients: oxygen, moisture, a hint of fertile leaf-rot simmering.In the morning, when the moon is devoured, her husband carries out the baby. He lifts her in his arms to pluck the fabulous branches, and the baby crowns her curls with spray that smells of molasses tea and virility, of clover honey and of morning bread baking.