Breakfast

My father taught me how to eat breakfast
those mornings when it was my turn to help
him milk the cows.  I loved rising up from

the darkness and coming quietly down
the stairs while the others were still sleeping.
I’d take a bowl from the cupboard, a spoon

from the drawer, and slip into the pantry
where he was already eating spoonfuls
of cornflakes covered with mashed strawberries

from our own strawberry fields forever.
Didn’t talk much—except to mention how
good the strawberries tasted or the way

those clouds hung over the hay barn roof.
Our spoons clinked in harmony—it was simple,
as much as anyone could ever want.

Zucchini Bread

All of the recipes are a form
of self-defense, a highly developed
system of culinary marshal arts
designed to chop, shred, slice
and disintegrate the zucchini,

which proliferates at an astounding
rate so that it appears like a sly green
jack-in-the-box under every leaf
and fills baskets, kitchen counters and is
left on doorsteps in the dead of the night.

One summer we even ate the flowers,
dipped in batter and deep-fried to a
golden crisp.  Drowning yours in maple syrup,
you said “not bad” just like you said the bread
didn’t taste at all like zucchini.

The Peaches

Back from the airport, I sat in the car
eating one of the peaches he’d given me.

It was a perfect peach, and the next one
was perfect too:  two ripe, juicy, peaches

that I ate without regret.  Even now
I can’t forget the taste of that summer,

how I would open his letters as I
walked in a garden by the lake, reading

the words that were as close as words could come
to skin and the warm flesh that covered bone.

Then I thought of  Properzia d’Rossi
carving the crucifixion in peach stone,

how she found the broken body of love
hidden in the tiny poisonous pit.

Joyce Sutphen grew up on a farm near St. Joseph, Minnesota and lives in Chaska. Her first book, Straight Out of View, won the Barnard New Women Poets Prize; Coming Back to the Body was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award, and Naming the Stars won a Minnesota Book Award in Poetry.  In 2005, Red Dragonfly Press published Fourteen Sonnets in a letterpress edition.  She is one of the co-editors of To Sing Along the Way, an anthology of Minnesota women poets.  Currently she teaches literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.

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